I had always thought that Yiddish was a “Jewish” language. I had never realized that it was just the language that was spoken in Europe, and was the cultural language. In elementary school we would learn Yiddish when we translated text in the chumash. All that I remember from it is the beginning words “Vayomer – in er hut ge zukt”. Some of my classmates were from boro park so they heard Yiddish more often and it was easier for them to catch on.
My friend was able to make a deal with the teacher in 5th grade, that she didn’t have to know the Yiddish translation. After hearing this, I decided I’ll give it a shot too and see if I can get away with it. So I went over to my teacher, and I told her I had a hard time with all the Yiddish. So she made a deal with me, it wasn’t as generous a deal that she made with my friend. She told me I would only be responsible to know the Yiddish translation for the first posuk we do a day. That definitely was a huge cut back from the regular amount of posukim we did a day, so I was grateful.
After Elementary school, I never encountered Yiddish again. I would go to my grandparents, and my grandmother would speak to me in Yiddish and I had no clue what she was saying, and would look at her with a questioning face. Then she would remember that I didn’t know Yiddish and would tell me I have to start learning it so that I can understand people.
Then the other day I found an article that sheds light to this Yiddish situation, and to the High School drop out rate. It goes like this, all old European Jews were fluent in their native language, whether it be Hungarian or French. So then why is that here in America there are people who think they don’t have to know English? That they just talk Yiddish and then therefore they can’t get a job and support their family. Or even if they do have their own business, they can’t interact with other people, and it severely limits them. Even Rambam and Rashi were fluent and wrote in their native languages. Part of the Gemara was even written in Aramaic and not in Hebrew.
Studies have showed surprising results. That the families who shelter their kids, don’t have a lower amount of at risk teens, but rather a higher one than those that don’t shelter their kids. The uneducated children grow up with poverty, are unhappy and therefore more open to negative influences. So once we start educating our children the right way then it can help solve 2 issues at once. By learning English they will become more successful, as language is a vital tool to communication. Second there will be less at risk teens. They will be happier and content, and won’t feel the need to “figure things out” for themselves.