Jew, Eastern Yiddish-speaking in Russia

Jew, Eastern Yiddish-speaking
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People Name: Jew, Eastern Yiddish-speaking
Country: Russia
10/40 Window: No
Population: 1,700
World Population: 784,600
Primary Language: Yiddish, Eastern
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Jews
Affinity Bloc: Jews
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The fall of the Soviet Union brought a big change to the lives of the Russian Jews. Most chose to leave Russia and go to Israel, the USA, Canada or Ukraine. One can fully understand why the Yiddish speaking Jews left Russia. Throughout Russian history the Jews were subject to periodic persecutions call pogroms. The Jew were forced by the Russian government to live in special Jewish towns. From time to time, their villages were burned down and their property stolen. Some were killed and others forced to leave their homes and move to another Jewish area. Only small fraction of Jews who once lived in Russia remain there. One of the unique features among European Jews is the distinction between the Ashkenazic Jews and the Sephardic Jews. The word Ashkenazi is derived from a biblical word for the larger Germanic region of Europe. Therefore, Ashkenazim Jews are those whose ancestry is linked to that area. This group traditionally speaks the Yiddish language, which is a German dialect that has Hebrew and Slavic elements. The word Sephardi was the name used by Jews in medieval times for the Iberian Peninsula. Sephardim Jews, then, are the descendants of the Jews who lived in Spain or Portugal prior to expulsion in 1492. Sephardim also have a distinctive language called Ladino, or Judeo-Spanish. This is a dialect of Castilian Spanish with Hebrew and Turkish elements. During the last few centuries, Eastern Europe had the largest Jewish population in the world. National attitudes toward the Jews were ambivalent, depending on the usefulness of the Jewish inhabitants to the nations' rulers. Anti-Semitism was prevalent and frequently led to either persecution or expulsion. The Holocaust of World War II was the climax of Jewish persecution in Europe, leading to the extermination of six million Jews. Many European countries lost the majority of their Jewish population in this tragedy.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, former Soviet Jews no longer live under oppressive government rule. Anti-Semitism is still a concern, but Jewish life has been revitalized in countries like Ukraine and Russia. Synagogues are functioning and kosher (traditional, acceptable) food is once again available. The Jewish emigration from Eastern Europe is cause for concern among the remaining aged Jewish population. As the older Jews die, the Jewish community dwindles. Many of the younger Jews are not familiar with their Jewish identity. They are either non-observant or have assimilated into the prevailing culture. However, there are strong efforts to maintain a Jewish presence and clarify their identity. Jewish schools are being opened and Judaic studies are being promoted in universities. Jewish hospitals and retirement homes are being built. Community centers also promote cultural events such as the Israeli dance, theater, Yiddish and Hebrew lessons, and sports.

What Are Their Beliefs?

For religious Jews, God is the Supreme Being, the Creator of the universe, and the ultimate Judge of human affairs. God revealed Himself in the Torah or Law of Moses. The religious beliefs of the Jewish communities vary greatly. European Jews are extremely diverse in religious practice. The Ashkenazic Jews are the most prevalent, representing the Orthodox, ultra-Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform movements. The unusual and adamantly traditional Hasidic movement was born in Poland and has gained a strong following in the United States and Israel. The Sephardic denomination is similar to the Orthodox Ashkenazic but is more permissive on dietary rules and some religious practices. Each Jewish denomination maintains synagogues and celebrates the traditional Jewish holiday calendar. While most European Jews are religiously affiliated, there is a significant minority which is not religious.

What Are Their Needs?

The Jews have a wonderful understanding of the Abrahamic covenant. However, they also have a history of rejecting Jesus Christ as Messiah, the one who has fulfilled that covenant. Pray that as the gospel is shared, it will not be viewed as anti-Semitic, but rather as the fulfillment of what God promised through Abraham centuries ago.

Prayer Points

Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth loving Christ followers to work among the Jewish communities. Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom and favor to the mission agencies that are focusing on the Russian Jews. Pray that the Jewish people will understand that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah. Ask the Lord to soften the hearts of the Jews towards Christ followers so that they might hear and receive the message of salvation. Pray that God will grant Jewish believers favor as they share their faith in Christ with their own people. Pray for a movement to Christ among the Jewish communities in Russia.

Text Source:   Joshua Project