I am traveling to Israel for the first time this summer, and generally when I go to a country I like to learn a little bit of the language to make navigation easier (and because it's cool).

However, I'm already reasonably competent in Yiddish and would love an opportunity to actually use it (and really don't know Hebrew well at all). Is Yiddish spoken enough in Israel that it's likely to come up? Are there parts of Israel where there might be more Yiddish speakers?

  • 1
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yiddish_language, very interesting topic.. May 18, 2012 at 17:27
  • 5
    The most useful languages in Israel are Hebrew, English, Arabic, and Russian.
    – nibot
    May 21, 2012 at 8:55
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    The most useful aspect of familiarity with Yiddish will probably be your familiarity with the Hebrew alphabet.
    – nibot
    May 21, 2012 at 8:59
  • 1
    not really. there are few who speek idish, mostly very old or very very religious.
    – daniel
    Feb 21, 2013 at 21:44

4 Answers 4


Yiddish is only spoken in very specific neighborhoods by very specific people. Usually you would identify them by being rather old (middle-aged+) and very religious (you can see by their clothing). You would probably encounter them in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak.

Some younger members of the certain Ashkenazi religious communities speak Yiddish, as well as some older secular Israelis (mostly of Soviet/Polish descent).

General population won't know it, and won't understand you.

Bottom line is that Yiddish would be much more useful in Germany than in Israel.

  • 6
    Eh, I don't know how useful Yiddish would be in Germany either, aside from in the sense that Spanish would be useful in Portugal. May 25, 2012 at 1:52
  • 5
    @LessPop_MoreFizz respectfully disagree.
    – littleadv
    May 25, 2012 at 2:01

You'd be most likely to find people speaking Yiddish in Chareidi neighborhoods.

One exercise that might be interesting to you would be to walk into a shop in Meah Shearim, in Jerusalem, an strike up a conversation in Yiddish with the shopkeeper.

  • 6
    However, there are expectations of dress, particularly for women, that are different from usual tourist garb. (I don't know if RSid is male or female.) May 18, 2012 at 23:22
  • 2
    Good points on both counts--I'd love to try it, but am female and don't necessarily see myself meshing well in a Chareidi neighborhood.
    – RSid
    May 21, 2012 at 15:40

As long as you are dressed modestly, meaning long skirt and long sleeves, you can go into some of the Chareidi stores and the men will talk to you, as long as you have some purpose for being there, i.e. buying something. I have done this on multiple occasions.


Yiddish is spoken by older Russian immigrants (50+) all over. However it is not clear and has to be searched for. Since it is identified with old Ashkenazi and religious Haredi, outside certain neighbourhoods (some mentioned above) and cities (Bnei-Brak, parts of Jerusalem) it is not obvious. Anyway it will not hurt to use Yiddish, which Israelis see as a dead language. There is a goodsearched Yiddish theatre in Tel Aviv.

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