July 15, 2019


No One's Studying Hebrew Anymore -- That's A Big Problem (Aviya Kushner, July 11, 2019, The Forward)

College enrollment in Hebrew courses is dropping sharply, and this downward spiral may soon have profound effects on the American Jewish community.

Modern Hebrew enrollment fell 17.6 percent between 2013 and 2016, according to a report from the Modern Languages Association, while Biblical Hebrew suffered a 23.9% decline. [...]

Hebrew is a tiny player in the college language scene, where Spanish dominates. Out of 1,417,921 enrollments in college courses tracked in the MLA report, Spanish accounted for 712,240 of that total.

Those statistics only tell part of the story, because Hebrew is more than a traditional "foreign language" for Jews. The Hebrew language is the gateway to the prayers, the Torah, and other foundational Jewish texts. While the common second language for much of the world today is English, the common language for the Jewish community is now Hebrew.

As the Jewish world splits into two large communities in America and Israel, Hebrew is even more critical as the language that can connect American Jewry and Israeli Jewry; without Hebrew, much of contemporary Israeli culture is simply inaccessible.

Posted by at July 15, 2019 12:00 AM