Yiddish Bible iPhone/iPad Application


The Yiddish Bible application is designed for reading/studying the Yiddish Bible in either Yiddish or in a parallel format combining Yiddish and another language (at present, either English, Hebrew, or YIVO transcription). It is also useful as a tool for improving one's knowledge of Yiddish. It is comprised of the following components:
  1. Bible: The Yiddish Bible is accessible in several different versions (Yiddish, Yiddish/English, Yiddish/Hebrew, and Yiddish/YIVO-transcription) and it is easy to switch between versions by pressing a button while viewing the Bible text. All versions are resident on the device and no Internet access is required to view the texts.
    The Yiddish text is based on the Yiddish translation done by Yehoash (Solomon Blumgarten) in the early part of the 20th century and has been updated to reflect current YIVO standards for Yiddish spelling and to correct some typographical errors. The Hebrew text is based on the Leningrad Codex and the English text is based on the original Jewish Publication Society (JPS) translation of 1917. The YIVO transcription text was programmatically generated by Refoyl Finkel.
    When reading the text, one can touch a Yiddish word and a pop-up definition of that word will be displayed (if no "exact" match for the word is found in the dictionary, the "closest match" definition will be displayed instead).
    In additon to a "Book"-based reading approach, it is possible to also toggle to a "Parashah"-based approach (a Parashah is the weekly synagogue Torah/Haftarah reading).
  2. Words: This is useful for learning more about specific Yiddish words and for discovering related words. There are four different ways to learn more about words:
    • Words: By selecting the first two letters of the Yiddish word, a listing will be displayed of all Yiddish words that begin with those two letters. Initially, ranges of words will be displayed. When the user touches a range, all of the words in that range, along with a brief English translation of each word, will be displayed. This provides an extremely fast method to lookup words in the dictionary. The entire word dictionary is maintained on the device so no Internet access is required to display the Yiddish words and definitions.
    • X-Late: Displays the Google Translate web page (Internet access required) with "Detect Language" and "Yiddish" pre-selected as the source/target languages. Note: in order to enter Yiddish (or any) text correctly, the relevant keyboard needs to have been enabled in the iOS Settings application (under General/Keyboard/International Keyboards).
    • Dict: Displays PDF scans (Internet access required) of all of the pages of "Harkavy's Yiddish/English, English/Yiddish Dictionary" (1910 edition). This dictionary uses a somewhat Germanized orthography and is apparently more directed to Yiddish speakers rather than English speakers. The dictionary is accessed as part of this app due to it's historical significance and also because it is useful when reading classical Yiddish literature.
    • Search: This search facility searches the on-device word/definition list (not the Harkavy dictionary) for an English or Yiddish word/words or word fragment (you will need to enable the Hebrew keyboard in the iOS Settings app in order to enter a Yiddish word). Wildcards can also be used in the search - use '_' to match any single character and use '%' to match any number of characters. For example, 'wa%r' would return definitions that include either the word 'water' or the word 'wander' (as well as others).
    When using the Words tab functionality, "swipe right" and "swipe left" will allow the user to navigate back/forward through pages that were previously displayed.
  3. Topics: There are links to key topics (over 200 people/places/things) in the Wikipedia online encyclopedia. One can access topics by:
    • Bible book: for example, one can select all topics for the book of Exodus.
    • "Meta" Topics: topics that deal with concepts that relate to the Yiddish Bible in general (e.g. - the Yiddish language).
    • All Topics: one can also toggle from a "Book"-based list of topics to an alphabetical list of all available topics.
  4. Maps: There are maps of almost every location (over 1,000 locations) mentioned in the Yiddish Bible (the lattitude/longitude locations are based on data from the OpenBible.info site; however, the application does not access that site). It is possible to display multiple different locations on a map and to clear previously selected locations from a map. By selecting a location on the map and touching the "callout detail disclosure" symbol (the "right arrow"), one can see a listing of all verses in the Yiddish Bible that mention that location. One can access Maps by:
    • Bible book: for example, one can select maps for locations that are mentioned in the book of Exodus.
    • All Maps: one can also toggle from a "Book"-based list of locations to an alphabetical list of all available locations.

Demo Movie

The following demo movie was done in the iPad Simulator for Version 1.0 of the app:

Yiddish Bible App


This application's web site is: http://sites.google.com/site/yiddishbible/

If you have any problems with or comments about the Yiddish Bible application, please send them to: zeevclem@gmail.com.


The Yiddish text is based on the Yehoash translation that was transcribed by a team led by Leonard Prager z"l and Itsik Goldenberg. Craig Abernethy, Robert Berkovitz, Martin Doering, Matthew Fisher, Jack P. Freer, Itsik (Robert) Goldenberg, David Herskovic, Allen Mayberry, Leonard Prager, Elisheva Schonfeld, Marjorie Schonhaut-Hirshan, and Meyer Wolf all helped to make the Yehoash Project a reality.

The English text in the "Yiddish/English" version of the Bible is from the Jewish Publication Society's 1917 text and was extracted with help from individuals contributing to opensiddur.org.

The Yiddish dictionary was adapted from a dictionary created by Refoyl Finkel.

The font used to display the Yiddish text is a modified version of the "FreeSans" font that was created by gnu.org. The modifications allow for the "khirik" vowel to be displayed in a "raised" manner in a "khirik yud" character combination as is customary in Yiddish. A link to the modified source is on the application's web site (see my blog entry for a description and links).

The font used to display the Hebrew text is "Ezra SIL SR" and it was created by sil.org.

Some of the toolbar icons were adapted from icons by Joseph Wain (http://glyphish.com).

Many thanks to the following people:
  • Adam Prager(the son of Leonard Prager): For giving his blessing for the use of the Yehoash texts.
  • Itsik Goldenberg: For his support of the opensiddur.org project and his work transcribing the Yehoash text.
  • Refoyl Finkel: For his wealth of Yiddish knowledge, his Yiddish utilities, his help with converting the Yiddish texts, and for his support with this project.
  • Aharon Varady(opensiddur.org): For co-founding the Open Siddur project and for his help and support with this project.For more information on the Open Siddur project: http://opensiddur.org/


  1. Version 1.0 (January 20, 2012): Initial release.
  2. Version 2.0 (February 16, 2012): Significant enhancements.
  3. Version 2.1 (March 14, 2012): iOS 5.1 updates.
  4. Version 2.2 (October 24, 2012): iOS 6.0 and iPhone 5 enhancements.
  5. Version 2.3 (December 7, 2013): iOS 7 support and various enhancements/fixes.
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