The very successful Movers collaboration launches a second year of programming with a lecture and teach-in.

Do You Speak Jewish?

Professor Sarah Benor

2010-2011 Movers Program Teach-in and Launch Next Tuesday

The community-wide collaboration of Movers continues this year with Do You Speak Jewish?, an exploration of Jewish culture and identity through the lens of language and literature. Join thirteen Boulder (and some Denver-based) community organizations for the launch and teach-in with Professor Sarah Benor on Tuesday, September 28 at 7 PM in CU’s University Memorial Center room 235.

Professor Benor will examine if there is such a thing as “American Jewish English”? If so, how does it compare and relate to Jewish languages of the past?

Join us for an interactive investigation of the question of Jewish language and identity. Professor Benor’s opening lecture will focus on the history of Jewish languages and some of their distinctive features. In the facilitated breakout groups that follow, participants will be given quotes and questions for discussion. The concluding session will examine American Jewish diversity, which is reflected and constructed in language.

Benor is an Associate Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies at Hebrew Union College where she teaches about the social science of American Jews, as well as about language and culture. Her research interests include Jewish languages, American Jewish identity and culture, sociolinguistic variation, the linguistic construction of identity, language contact, ethnography, and Orthodox Jews. She is the founder, producer, and editor of the Jewish Language Research Website, and the founder and moderator of the Jewish Languages Mailing List. Her publications include “Do American Jews Speak a ‘Jewish Language’? A Model of Jewish Linguistic Distinctiveness” (Jewish Quarterly Review) and “Jewish Languages.” (Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics) The event is free and open to the public but RSVP’s are appreciated and can be made online at or by calling 303-998-1021.

Professor Benor will also be presenting an additional lecture titled Shpiel, Mensch and Bentsh: Echoes of Yiddish in Contemporary American English at Noon on Tuesday, September 28 at CU’s Hillel (2795 Colorado Avenue, Boulder).  This lunch and learn lecture will look at the influence Yiddish has had on American language, especially in the early 21st century. Dr. Benor will address not only words like bashert, keppie, bentsh and daven but grammatical constructions like “She’s staying by us” or “What do I know from that?” This discussion will also look at how language varies among older Jews, younger Jews and those involved in the religious spheres. Special attention will be paid to new cultural forms, like Heeb Magazine and the film “The Hebrew Hammer.” Lunch and beverages will be provided by CU’s Hillel so RSVP’s are required. Please RSVP at or call 303-998-1021.

The thirteen collaborating organizations who worked to make Movers possible are Allied Jewish Federation, Anti-Defamation League, Congregation Bonai Shalom, Congregation Beth Ami, Boulder JCC, Hadassah, Congregation Har HaShem, Hillel at the University of Colorado, Keshet, Limmud Colorado, Menorah: Arts, Culture and Education at the Boulder JCC, the Program in Jewish Studies at CU, and Soul Food.

Movers: Do You Speak Jewish? is presented with support from Rose Community Foundation. For more information, visit or call 303-998-1021.

About Jamie Polliard

Assistant Director of the Program in Jewish Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder

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