Along a southern road,
Menachem and Yossele
came upon a wagon full of
a whole family chattering
in a foreign language.
"I believe that's Ladino,"
Menachem said as they
came abreast of the wagon.
He called out in Hebrew, and
the grandfather gladly leaned out
to talk with him for a while.
As it turned out, Pandjuro was
a tinsmith, while his son Dafret
had gone into copper instead.
"Would you like to ride with us
for a while?" Pandjuro said. "It is
safer to travel in numbers, and with
a blacksmith our customers could get
a great deal of mending done at once."
"I would like that, if you don't mind
that my apprentice Yossele is
a golem," said Menachem.
"No trouble at all," said Pandjuro,
then turned to Yossele and made
some intricate gesture with his hands.
Yossele gave him a blank look.
"Oh, you don't sign?" said Pandjuro.
"That must make conversation difficult."
"We get by," Menachem said.
"You know of a better way?"
"Yes, my granddaughter Biyla
fell in love with a boy from Ghardaia,
so we're trying to learn his sign language
before the wedding," said Pandjuro.
"Would you like to learn it too?"
Yossele bobbed his head eagerly.
"Yes, please," said Menachem.
"I would like to work on Ladino, too --
I only know a few words."
"Then you and I may start with
Ladino, while Yossele begins on
Ghardaia," said Pandjuro. "Biyla!
Come out and meet our new friends."
A young woman with long black braids
scrambled out of the wagon. Her hands
fluttered like clever birds. Then she said,
"May it be Your will, G d, our G d and the G d
of our fathers, that You should lead us in peace
and direct our steps in peace, and guide us
in peace, and support us in peace, and cause us
to reach our destination in life, joy, and peace."
Hesitantly, Yossele tried to copy what
she had signed to him, and Biyla
grinned in encouragement.
Menachem could tell that this
would take a lot of work, but
it was an auspicious start.
* * *
Pandjuro, a grandfather and traveling tinsmith
Dafret, son of Pandjuro, a traveling coppersmith
Biyla, daughter of Dafret, granddaughter of Pandjuro
* * *
"May it be Your will, G d, our G d and the G d of our fathers, that You should lead us in peace and direct our steps in peace, and guide us in peace, and support us in peace, and cause us to reach our destination in life, joy, and peace (If one intends to return immediately, one adds: and return us in peace). Save us from every enemy and ambush, from robbers and wild beasts on the trip, and from all kinds of punishments that rage and come to the world. May You confer blessing upon the work of our hands and grant me grace, kindness, and mercy in Your eyes and in the eyes of all who see us, and bestow upon us abundant kindness and hearken to the voice of our prayer, for You hear the prayers of all. Blessed are You G d, who hearkens to prayer."
-- Text of the Travelers Prayer
There are a variety of Jewish languages. Hebrew is the sacred language of all Jews. Ladino is a Judeo-Spanish language spoken by Sephardic Jews.
Algerian Jewish Sign Language includes a variety of village sign languages such as Ghardaia Sign Language.