Yiddish in the Netherlands
Yiddish was spoken in the Netherlands from the seventeenth century, when Jewish immigrants arrived from Germany and Poland. In the nineteenth century 'Western Yiddish', as it is called nowadays, lost ground when Dutch became the official language in (Jewish) schools and synagogues. From the turn of the twentieth century until the Second World War, immigrants from Eastern Europe introduced the 'Eastern Yiddish' to Holland.
The Dutch are constantly reminded of the early Jewish immigrants by the great number of Yiddish words which found their way into the Dutch language. Words like TOF (good), MAJEM (water), JOET (a bill of ten guilders), and many more. Eastern Yiddish had very little impact.
Sjeėriet, Resten van een taal by Hartog Beem (1966) contains a list of
Yiddish and Hebrew words which made their way into the Dutch
See also this site:
Current interest in Yiddish is growing steadily in the Netherlands, and is taking many different forms. Please consult the calendar for coming events.
The Yiddish Foundation (Stichting Jiddisj) was founded in 1999 and is dedicated to promoting interest and knowledge of Yiddish language and literature.
- The Mira Rafalowicz library has books and magazines in Yiddish, as well as Yiddish literature in translation (into Dutch, English, Hebrew, and French), and reference books.
- The quarterly Grine Medine opens a window to the Yiddish literature, in Yiddish, transliterated Yiddish (Dutch transliteration), and in Dutch.
- Every year there are new symposia where speakers from the Netherlands and abroad focus on a particular theme. An artistic program is always an integral part of these symposia. The last symposium, featuring the work and life of Abraham Sutzkever, took place November 9, 2003 in Amsterdam.
- Musical and literary events are organised at least twice a year, giving the audience a glimpse into the richness of Yiddish culture, in Yiddish and translation.
- The Yiddish Foundation initiates and stimulates Yiddish courses.
The University of Amsterdam, the Volksuniversiteit of Amsterdam and the Jewish Study Centre in Leiden all offer Yiddish courses. For more information click here.
Reading groups (Yiddishe kraysn) are active in Amsterdam and Groningen.
Beit Shalom in Amsterdam offers home for a group of people who practice their active Yiddish talking skills weekly.
The annual Jewish Festival in Amsterdam offers regular programs of Yiddish music, with local artists and guests from abroad. The Yiddish Song Workshop is one of the most popular workshops every year. Amsterdam has at least 3 Yiddish choirs, and the number of bands singing Yiddish songs and playing Klezmer music is still growing.