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This settled and accepted story was due to Weinreich’s legacy and his seemingly definitive study, which is now being challenged in an explosive way by an Israeli scholar, Paul Wexler, who, like Weinreich, is a linguist.
Wexler has been marshaling his arguments for two decades to make the radical, implausible, impossible argument that Yiddish did not come from Germany but from the Slavic lands, and the East European Jews came not from the Rhineland but from Persia via the Caucasus and the Khazar steppe.
Weinreich became a professor of Yiddish at City College and re-established YIVO in New York City.
Max Weinreich died in 1969; his son and heir to the calling, Uriel, predeceased him by two years.
The notes cite research in two dozen languages and took more than a decade to edit and check even after they were translated.
Yiddish is taught as a foreign language at a handful of universities in the United States and Europe, including Indiana University, UCLA, Columbia, and Oxford.“His determination was a powerful engine that propelled him forward relentlessly. He could create worlds if he decided to do so,” recalled his colleague Lucy Dawidowicz.“His most distinctive physical features were an irresistible smile … saw everything, even deep inside you.” Weinreich was a leader who could gain the allegiance of those great and small on behalf of his beloved Yiddish.They extend for over 750 pages, are now published in English for the first time in the new Yale edition, and contain the most interesting, and controversial, part of what had seemed till now a fairly straightforward and unchallenged historical narrative.Weinreich’s original text and notes were published in 1973, four years after his death.
Yiddish speakers are found in the last remnants of Jewish villages in Moldova, Romania, Hungary, and Ukraine.