Jewish, Eastern Yiddish-speaking in Lithuania

Jewish, Eastern Yiddish-speaking
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People Name: Jewish, Eastern Yiddish-speaking
Country: Lithuania
10/40 Window: No
Population: 2,300
World Population: 784,500
Primary Language: Yiddish, Eastern
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: Yes
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Jewish
Affinity Bloc: Jewish
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Jews of Europe arrived on the continent at least 2,000 years ago during the days of the Roman Empire. Since then, they have been a significant influence on the history and culture of Europe. Much of what is considered "Jewish" today finds its roots among the European Jews.

One of the unique features among European Jews is the distinction between the Ashkenazi Jews and the Sephardic Jews. The word Sephard was the name used by Jews in medieval times for the Iberian Peninsula. Sephardic Jews are the descendants of the Jews who lived in Spain or Portugal prior to expulsion in 1492 by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Sephardim also have a distinctive language called Ladino, or Judeo-Spanish. This is a dialect of Castilian Spanish, with Hebrew and Turkish elements.

They derive the word Ashkenaz from a biblical word for the larger Germanic region of Europe. Therefore, Ashkenazi Jews are those whose ancestry is linked to that area. This group traditionally speaks the Yiddish language, which is a German dialect that has Hebrew and Slavic elements. Yiddish, the language of the Ashkenaz, has two major dialects and smaller ones. Western Yiddish is the language of those who have some roots in Germany and Central Europe. Eastern Yiddish is the language of Russia, and Eastern European countries like Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Moldova, etc.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Today there are very few Eastern Yiddish speakers in Lithuania. Most Jewish survivors of the Holocaust and their descendants emigrated from Lithuania to Israel, the United States or Western Europe. The memories of the Holocaust as well as the centuries of discrimination and persecution play a strong part in modern Jewish identity.

The Jewish emigration from Lithuania is cause for concern among the remaining aged Jewish population. As the older Jews die, the Jewish community dwindles. Many of the younger Jews are not familiar with their Jewish identity. They are either non-observant or have assimilated into the prevailing culture. Jewish elders are trying to reinforce Jewish identity in their community. Teaching the next generation to speak Eastern Yiddish is an important part of keeping their culture alive.

What Are Their Beliefs?

For religious Jews, God is the Supreme Being, the Creator of the universe, and the ultimate judge of human affairs. Beyond this, the religious beliefs of the Jewish communities vary greatly. Orthodox Jews follow the traditional religious beliefs and practices found in the Jewish literature that interprets Scripture regarding ethical, religious, civil, and criminal matters.

Reform Jews do not believe that the Jewish Law is divinely revealed. They are not restricted to kosher foods. They neither wear the skullcap (yarmulke) when praying nor use Hebrew in prayer. All religious Jews believe in the coming of a Messianic Age, but only the Orthodox Jews look for a personal Messiah.

Many Jewish people today keep cultural Judaism, but they have rejected the spiritual elements taught in the Old Testament. They might take part in cultural events and even religious ceremonies, but they are secular or New Age in their spiritual lives.

What Are Their Needs?

Jewish people have a wonderful understanding of their connection with the Abrahamic Covenant. However, they also have a history of rejecting Jesus Christ as Messiah, the one who has fulfilled that covenant. They tend to view Christianity as the religion of their oppressors rather than the fulfillment of what God promised all of humanity through Abraham.

Prayer Points

Pray for the Holy Spirit to give Eastern Yiddish speaking Jews in Lithuania teachable and understanding hearts.

Pray that a strong movement of the Holy Spirit will bring entire Yiddish speaking families into a rich experience of God's blessing.

Pray for Jewish families to be drawn by the Holy Spirit to seek forgiveness, and to understand the adequacy of Christ's work on the cross.

Pray for teams of believers to do sustained, focused prayer for the Lord to open the hearts of Yiddish speaking family leaders to experience God's blessing through a movement of family-based discovery Bible studies.

Text Source:   Joshua Project