This Week in JPL History: It’s all Greek to me!

For many years Yiddish was the language of the Library

For many years the Jewish Public Library offered a translation service for organizations needing text translated into Yiddish. A wide variety of organizations used this service including hospitals, and other Jewish institutions. By translating information for other organizations the Library supported outreach to the community as well as helping ensure the accessibility of these services.

Yiddish played an integral role to the founding of the Library. It was the language of communication for many of the Jewish immigrants who arrived in Montreal in the early 20th century as well as the movements which worked to establish a number of institutions, including the Library. The JPL quickly became a place not only where Yiddish was celebrated, but also where it flourished.

Yiddish continued as a working language at the Library into the 1980s with the majority of senior librarians being fluent. By the mid-1990s however, the circulation of Yiddish books had dropped considerably reflecting shifts in population and demographics. The Library celebrates its Yiddish roots and continues to promote Yiddish as a language of culture both through its programming and its courses.

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