Gallery 2: First Encounters, 965–1500
The earliest known complete YiddishYiddishthe historic Jewish vernacular of Ashkenazi Jews, a fusion of German dialects, Hebrew and Aramaic, and Judeo-Romance and Slavic languages. The beginnings of Yiddish are in the Rhineland in the Middle Ages. About 13 million people spoke Yiddish before the Second World War. sentence appears in an illuminated HebrewHebrewboth the Jewish sacred language of prayer and study (Yiddish: loshn-koydesh) and modern Hebrew (Hebrew: ivrit), which developed in the 19th century and became the official language of the State of Israel. manuscript dated 1272 – “Let a good day shine for him, who will carry this maḥzorMaḥzorfestival prayer book, in contrast with the siddur, a daily and Shabbat prayer book., festival prayer book, to the synagogue.” These words are written inside large calligraphic Hebrew letters. This maḥzor was created for an elderly cantorCantor(Hebrew: ḥazan, Yiddish: khazn) – a professional prayer leader with musical ability who conducts the synagogue service. A rabbi or layperson may also conduct the service. in Worms. It is enormous and was too heavy for him to carry. Pages from this manuscript are featured in an interactive presentation of the culture and languages that AshkenaziAshkenazimdescendants of Jews who, from the Middle Ages, resided initially in German lands, and later also in the whole of Central and Eastern Europe. Today they also live in Israel and in many other countries. Some still speak Yiddish. They have their own customs, which differ somewhat from those of Sephardim. Jews brought to Poland from German lands. Also presented here is page from an illuminated festival prayer book in Yiddish that was made by a scribe from Kraków in the mid-16th century.