Over 60 languages and dialects are spoken in Ethiopia. The main and national languages are Amharic, Tigrinya, and Oromo. In the areas in which Jews lived, Amharic and Tigrinya were spoken. Jews from Tigray speak Tigrinya and those from the Gondar area speak Amharic. The Kessim (religious leaders) and elders are also fluent in Ge’ez – an ancient Semitic language, used today for prayer. Amharic is a rich language with many unique, well-loved proverbs used in verbal communication. Ge’ez is currently studied in a number of academic institutions in order to preserve the language and its holy writings.