Introduction / History The Eastern Yiddish-speaking Jewish immigrants to the United States came in the late 1800s from Central and Eastern Europe where they were facing waves of persecution. Yiddish is a German dialect with Hebrew elements. This was the lingua franca of those with a European heritage. Today the number of Americans who speak Yiddish at home is quickly dropping.
Because of the uniqueness of their history and culture, all Jewish people have a strong sense of identity. Persecution of and discrimination against them in places like Russia, Germany, and Poland have been the historical reasons for their migrations to the United States. It was common in Europe for them to not be allowed to own land, so instead of being farmers, they moved to cities where they thrived economically.
Where are they located? In North America, most Jews live in urban areas on the east or west coasts. New York City has the largest Jewish population in North America, though there are sizeable populations of Yiddish-speaking people in New Jersey, Florida, and California. Many Yiddish speakers live in Maryland, Connecticut, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, and Arizona. Within these states, it would be safe to say that Yiddish speakers gravitate to the larger cities.
What are their lives like? While maintaining a Jewish identity, the majority of North American Jews conform to the mainstream American culture. They are successful in urban professions like running businesses, accounting, etc.
Socially, Yiddish speaking Jewish people tend to stick with others of their ethnic and religious groups. Many of them are part of one of the many Hassidic Jewish communities, which have little contact with one another.
It is very hard for followers of Christ to reach them even though Yiddish speakers are usually as fluent in English as any other American.
What are their beliefs? "Jewishness" is often defined in more secular terms such as the use of Yiddish words and family traditions, rather than in religious aspects, such as the following of Jewish laws regarding dietary restrictions. Their spirituality is tightly wrapped up in their ethnicity rather than in the God of the Universe. Hebrew is the religious language of prayer for Hassidic Jews, many of whom have a Yiddish-language background.
What are their needs? There are many resources that point the way to Jesus Christ. It is very difficult for Yiddish speaking Jews, whose ancestors were persecuted by "Christians," to give a fair hearing to the claims of Christ. Someone needs to go them as Christ's ambassador.
Prayer Points * Pray that Jewish people in the United States will embrace Jesus as their Messiah.
* Pray for a massive spiritual breakthrough among the Yiddish-speaking Jewish communities in the United States. Pray that they will crave true spirituality that only comes from the Savior.