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Gallery 5: Encounters with Modernity, 1772–1914

“Without 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., the folk has no past. Without 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. we have no folk.” Y. L. Peretz wrote these words in 1908, when the question of a Jewish national language was hotly debated. Peretz was the leading Yiddish writer of his generation and a charismatic figure. For “Jewish writers, publishers, actors, sculptors, and painters … being in Warsaw and not visiting Peretz was equivalent to being in Rome and not seeing the pope,” recalled Gershon Lewin. Enter Peretz’s literary salon, an interactive presentation of his life and influence. Nearby, explore the beginnings of Yiddish theatre and the Yiddish mass press.