Around the world this week, majority and minority groups are teaching their children stories in their native languages as part of an annual UNESCO event aimed at preserving and promoting the mother tongues of ethnic and national groups.
The idea was launched in 1999 at the 30th General Conference of UNESCO, where it was decided that February 21 would be set as International Mother Language Day.
The event, which incorporates nearly 6,000 languages, including Braille and sign language, aims at promoting linguistic diversity and multilingual education in the hope that such languages will continue to be spoken.
In Israel, International Mother Language Day will give a fresh impetus to Yiddish, with Beit Leyvik, the Tel Aviv-based headquarters of the Yiddish Writers and Journalists Association, leading the way. Yiddish organizations and institutions across the country are also participating with story-telling, readings and community singing.
Yiddish, so long considered a dying language, will be revived big time between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. Wednesday.
Since the influx of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, there has been a considerable revival of Yiddish, a language that in the early years of the state was shunned.
Many of these senior citizens belong to clubs in which there are Yiddish choirs, community singing in Yiddish, visits to Yiddish theater and readings of Yiddish literature.
For details of activities in Yiddish call Beit Leyvik at (03) 523-1830.
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