Israel to celebrate Hebrew’s revival in special day

Hebrew Language Day is “an excellent opportunity to advance reading among students and the young generation,” says Education Minister Naftali Bennett.

By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News

Thursday is Hebrew Language Day. Its aim is to advance the modern use of the ancient language, both in Israel and around the world. Many events are scheduled to mark the occasion, including in Israeli schools.

This year’s theme is “Hebrew – an innovative language.” Education Minister Naftali Bennett says that the day is “an excellent opportunity to advance reading among students and the young generation.”

The Academy of the Hebrew Language in Jerusalem is to hold an open house that will include lectures, professional workshops, tours of the Eliezer Ben-Yehuda room, and a glimpse at the academy archives.

Ben-Yehuda was considered the driving force behind the revival of the Hebrew language in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The occasion marks his birthday, 21 Tevet on the Hebrew calendar, but was brought forward this year because the actual date falls on Saturday.

One of the major battles is to prevent the creeping infiltration of English into modern Hebrew. The academy is fighting against the Hebrew University’s intention to conduct M.A. and Ph.D. classes in English. The academy argues that “modern Hebrew is qualified to be used in all walks of life and for all needs, including research and scientific study, without exception.”

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The academy even objects to the use by Israeli politicians and others of the term ‘Fake News’ that was made popular by U.S. President Donald Trump, insisting that there is a perfectly accurate way of saying it in Hebrew as well.

As the schools mark this special day, state religious educational institutions are launching an ambitious project called “Reading until a million,” with a stated objective of reading a million books between Hebrew Language Day and State Religious Education Week in May. Some 100,000 students from about 400 schools are said to be taking part. The aim is to stress that reading is pleasurable.