How Yiddish could save the Jewish people
Language, not marriage or religious practice, is key to community: In these polarized times, we need something that will keep us together no matter what we say.
The American Jewish community and its media frequently express concern about the Jewish future in America, citing mounting rates of assimilation and increasingly liberal trends in religious practice. In this discussion, intermarriage is frequently conceived of as being both the standard measure and the primary symptom of just how assimilated Jews are. What is usually left out of the discussion is any mention of linguistic assimilation.
In fact, most American Jews conceive of the Jewish people as being a religious group but rarely note the important role that Jewish ethnic and cultural heritage as expressed through language has traditionally played in Jewish survival.
The fact that many Jews cannot even conceive of ways of maintaining and transmitting their identity other than through religion testifies to the fact that outside of their religious affiliation, the vast majority of Jews are, culturally and linguistically speaking, hardly different from other Americans.