Before I sign off following him, however, here's a tidbit that rather sums it up:
Since I’ve got Israel on the brain, it strikes me in this regard that it’s perhaps unfortunate that the early Zionist leaders decided to revive Hebrew rather than use the Jewish state to ensure the continued existence of Yiddish and Ladino. The successful revival is enormously impressive as a pure example of clear ideological vision but that’s a lot of lost literature and such.Umm, Matthew: Yiddish literature didn't really start until the 2nd half of the 19th century, and Ladino, so far as I know, never created much literature at all. This means that modern Hebrew literature was born at roughly the exact same moment in time as Yiddish literature; not to mention everything else that was ever created in Hebrew, all along.
Matthew, incurious as he is, won't be interested, but if any of you are, there's a fine readable story of Yiddish literature in Aaron Lansky's Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books
I warmly recommend.
Oh, and apropos American bloggers coming to Israel to learn or not to learn, Michael Totten has put up his next installment in his reports from Israel.