The Frankely Judaic Podcast episode, "A Language of One’s Own: Writing politically in Judeo-Arabic, c. 1860-1914," with Frankel Institute Fellow Avner Ofrath is now available on our website and Buzzsprout! This episode is part of the 2022-23 Theme Year, "Mizrahim and the Politics of Ethnicity." Listen here.

Like most Jews living in Muslim lands, the Jews of Algeria had over the centuries built a vibrant culture, with homegrown traditions, institutions, and religious practices. Tying it all together was the Algerian Jewish community’s unique dialect of Judeo-Arabic, which rendered Arabic in Hebrew script–much like Yiddish, a German dialect written in Hebrew, spoken by Jews of Eastern Europe.For centuries, the Algerian dialect of Judeo-Arabic was spoken and written by Jews as an everyday language, and also had some liturgical function. But starting around the 1860s, Judeo-Arabic began to be used by Jews throughout the Muslim world for writing and commenting about the modern world of ideas and politics.

In this episode of Frankely Judaic, historian Avner Ofrath, a lecturer in modern history at the University of Bremen, in Germany,  and a fellow at the Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies, explores the rise and fall of Judeo-Arabic political writing, delving into what drove the phenomenon, the impact it had on Algerian-Jewish life and culture, and why it matters today.



The 2022-2023 fellowship year at the Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies, "Mizrahim and the Politics of Ethnicity," includes scholars from the United States and Israel who explore Mizrahi (Arab-Jewish) society and cultural as an interdisciplinary and intersectional field of study.