The Hebrew-Piedmontese dialect and the “APpaM” prayer

All over the world, over the millennia, Jews have introduced some Jewish expressions into local languages, creating dialectal neologisms. After the expulsion from France in 1394, many Jews sought refuge in Italy. In the Jewish communities of Asti, Fossano and Moncalvo, the prayer and dialect APpaM was born. The nomenclature “APpaM” comes from the Hebrew initials of these three towns. During the last century this mode was lost. Today only a few melodies remain, handed down thanks to the memory of some Jews who lived in the area.

Even in Piedmont, Jews were able to communicate without being understood by others by adding Hebrew or Aramaic words. These dialect words became so common that even non-Jews used them. The Hebrew-Piedmontese dialect was also used to write plays, poems and ballads: for example, La gran battaja dj’ abrei d’Moncalv (The great battle of the Jews of Moncalvo), which tells of a brawl in which many Jews participated in the square of Moncalvo.