Yiddish vs. Hebrew

Yiddish Vs. Hebrew
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People often confuse Yiddish and Hebrew as they are so similar languages. Both the languages are somehow identical and both are the Jewish language so people mix things up and assume that Yiddish and Hebrew are similar. The fact is it’s not true and if you think the same you’re wrong too! Both the languages are different; Hebrew is a Semitic language while Yiddish is a Germanic language, thus Yiddish vs. Hebrew is a compelling topic for discussion.

Well, both languages have the same writing style but are spoken differently, which makes them completely different languages. If you want to know about more differences and similarities, continue to read the article. We will discuss how the Yiddish language and Hebrew language are different from each other and how they are similar. So, let’s begin!

What makes Yiddish and Hebrew different languages? 

Let’s figure out how Yiddish and Hebrew are different from each other, here are a few things that you should know:

Language Family 

Hebrew is a Semitic language. Semitic language is a branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family, spoken in the Middle East. On the other hand, Yiddish is known as is German dialect, which integrates many other languages such as German language, Aramaic, Hebrew, and different Romance and Slavic languages.

yiddish vs hebrew
yiddish vs hebrew

The Yiddish language uses some words of the Hebrew language, and some are written in the Hebrew language. The Yiddish language is more similar to the German and Slavic languages than the Hebrew language. The Hebrew alphabet has 22 letters and all are consonants. It doesn’t have any vowel in the context.

Whereas in the Yiddish language, the silent Hebrew letters become vowels, and letters can be used both as consonants and vowels, whatever suits according to the context. Marks below letter also mentions in Yiddish, but it sounds different than in Hebrew.

Origin of Hebrew and Yiddish 

Hebrew and Yiddish are the languages of Jewish people. However, Hebrew is spoken by the people who come to Palestine to build a Jewish State, Israel. The people of Middle Eastern culture speak Hebrew. On the other hand, the Jewish community in Europe speaks Yiddish. Yiddish origin dates back to the time of the Ashkenazi Jews.

Hebrew is a Middle Eastern language that was originated 3000 years ago. It is the holy tongue of Jewish people. The Yiddish language comes from Europe near Rhineland, the area of Western Germany. It was traced over 800 years ago and spread to Eastern and Central Europe as well.


Yiddish is also known as “mame-loshn”, which means mother tongue. Jewish People use it as everyday language. Jewish of Central and Eastern Europe used Yiddish as conversational, home, and business language in their daily lives.

The Hebrew language is known as “loshn-Kodesh”, holy tongue. It was mostly used as Liturgical language, for religious purposes such as prayer, all around the world by Jewish people but normally it wasn’t spoken among Jews.

Languages, Spoken Today 

Today, over 10 million people all around the world speak the Hebrew language. It’s the first and official language of Israel. Biblical Hebrew is one of the most ancient languages of the world. People use it as both conversational language and language for religious purposes. Before the Holocaust, over 13 million Jewish out of 17 million Jews worldwide speak Yiddish.

After the Holocaust, there was a clear decline in the utilization of Yiddish. Today, it is not a dead language; it has 3 million native speakers in the world. Yiddish is the first language of Hasidic, a sect of the Ultra-Orthodox Judaism community in the United States of America especially in Borough Park, Williamsburg near Brooklyn, Crown Heights, and some parts of New York, and New Jersey.

A lot of children in the UK speak Yiddish as their first language. Moreover, it is the native language of 15 thousand Jewish people in Montreal and Canada. Yiddish is the official language of minorities in Sweden. The government publishes official documents in Yiddish, which clearly show that it‘s still a living language and has its own Jewish identity.

Along with that Sweden are a big source of new Yiddish books, TV series, music videos, and web media. Yiddish is the minority language of Moldova as well as some parts of Russia. Check out our latest post here about the oldest languages of the world to learn!

How Yiddish and Hebrew are Similar? 

Yiddish and Hebrew look similar at first, as both look similar to each other when written. But once you get into it you will, as we have discussed above that both have different origins and purposes. Yiddish looks like Hebrew but is closely related to German.

semic language
yiddish vs hebrew alphabet

Hebrew speakers find it difficult to understand Yiddish. Yiddish speakers, on the other hand, can somehow understand Hebrew, because most of the Yiddish speakers belong to the Haredim community. However, you can say that these two languages are somewhat similar to each other, not mutually intelligible, after all both are Jewish languages.

Yiddish uses Hebrew writing style and uses a lot of Hebrew vocabulary. Yiddish and Hebrew are at least similar in some regard. Whenever Jews adopt a local language they sprinkle it with little Aramaic and Hebrew; like any other Juedo-X-language.

Yiddish vs. Hebrew-Alphabet

Generally, Standard Yiddish is written phonetically and is much simpler to translate than Hebrew. Modern Hebrew has no vowels in its regular utilization. Moreover, you need to memorize the pronunciation of words much more than with Yiddish.

The Yiddish alphabet set made a few additions to the Hebrew letters to make it simpler to pronounce in German, for example, “ay” is pronounced “ay” in “fly” and “ey” as in “clay.” Some letters in Yiddish and Hebrew are named differently such as in Hebrew, the word “ב” as “bet” however in Yiddish it’ is known as “boyz”

Yiddish vs. Hebrew-Words

Let’s have a look at some of the Yiddish vs. Hebrew words. Yiddish uses a lot of vocabulary from the Hebrew language. Many words in Yiddish are similar to Hebrew. Almost all Judaic languages have a common theme.

An interesting fact about Yiddish is that Hebrew in the Yiddish language means Loshn Koydish like a “holy tongue” or “holy language”.

Yiddish and Hebrew have some common words but the language is not the same. Just like French and English have some common words but they both are different languages, the same is the case with Yiddish and Hebrew.

Which Language You Should Learn?

Well, it depends on you and your interests, if you want to explore Jewish history and culture you need to learn the Jewish language. There are a lot of options such as Hebrew, Aramaic, Ladino, Modern Hebrew, Yiddish, and many more.

  • If you want to explore and learn about Jewish history in Europe, go for Yiddish. It has a lot of things to learn such as great idioms, funny vocabulary and any surprising things. You can enhance your Yiddish language skills through Yiddish language courses.
  • If you want to visit the state of Israelis, Yiddish will not be a perfect choice for you as it is not a common language there. So better to learn Modern Hebrew. As it is common in Israel you can easily find a lot of reference resources to learn about Modern Hebrew.
  • If you want to learn about Jewish religion then Aramaic or Biblical Hebrew will be the perfect choice for you.

Now, you can decide better which language you should learn!

Wrap Up

Now, you have quite clear that Yiddish is not based on Hebrew and Hebrew is not a version of Yiddish. They both are different languages, exist as an individual. So we have to respect every language and give it the value it deserves.


Yiddish has been an important part of the Jewish culture and is traditionally associated with the Ashkenazi Jews in Eastern Europe. It is the second most widely spoken language in Israel after Hebrew. Currently, around 200,000 Israelis speak Yiddish.

Yiddish indeed has loanwords from Hebrew but it is not mutually intelligible. Even in the written forms, these languages are not mutually understandable. It is because Hebrew is a Semitic language that belongs to the Afro-Asiatic language family while Yiddish is a language of German origin.

No, the Amish don’t speak Yiddish. They speak Pennsylvanian Dutch and High German language whereas Jewish people speak Yiddish and Hebrew

Being spoken largely in the Jewish Diaspora, Yiddish is not a dying language. It has been considered an endangered language by UNESCO but it has a wide range of speakers in Britain, the US, Poland, and Lithuania.

All linguists are agreed on the fact that it will continue to be spoken all around the world but it’s not likely to get its pre-war status back.

Wrap Up

Now, you have quite clear that Yiddish is not based on Hebrew and Hebrew is not a version of Yiddish. They both are different languages, exist as an individual. So we have to respect every language and give it the value it deserves.

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