Hebrew: A Dead Language Revived

If you’ve learned anything about the spread of Modern Hebrew, you probably heard that it’s all thanks to one man – Eliezer Ben Yehuda – that Israel’s national language is Hebrew and not Yiddish (or even German!). Not to spoil a good story with fact, but that’s not exactly how the rebirth of Hebrew went down. Far from being a crusade of one, it took an entire nation to revive a language that had been close to death for millennia.

  • Review
  • Discussion
  • Activities
  • Reflection
  • Further Learning
  1. Theodore Herzl believed the official language of the Jewish state should be:
    • Hebrew
    • German
    • Yiddish
    • French
  2. True or false, Hebrew is the only dead spoken language to ever be revived.
  3. Eliezer Ben Yehuda and his wives Devorah and Hemda (not at the same time) were famous for:
    • Being the first set of parents to raise their children entirely in Hebrew in nearly 2000 years
    • Being the first King and Queen of modern Israel
    • Reviving the Yiddish language
    • Settling the first Kibbutz
  4. Who enacted many laws to ensure that Hebrew became part of the new national identity?
    • Menachem Begin
    • Moshe Dayan
    • David Ben Gurion
    • Golda Meir
  5. What year was Eliezer Ben Yehuda’s dictionary completed?
    • 1882
    • 1948
    • 1939
    • 1959
  1. Eliezer Ben-Yehuda said: “Jews cannot become a living nation – am chai – without returning to their ancestral language – lashon ha’avot [using it] in everyday discourse, from old to young…in all facets of life, at all hours, days and night.”
    Do you agree with his assessment about the critical nature of the Jews using Hebrew as a tool to become a living nation?
  2. In The Story of Hebrew, Glinert states that when Israel (then called Judea) was destroyed by Hadrian in the first century, “by any sociological yardstick, the prospects of native Hebrew’s survival were now minimal.” Yet, 1,800 years years later, the Jewish people resurrected Hebrew as a spoken language. Do you view this sort of achievement as miraculous or do you view it as natural?
  3. Do you think the Diaspora community has done enough to prioritize the Hebrew language in the Jewish education world? What are suggestions to improve the Hebrew language experience for Jewish students across the world?
  4. It seems so natural for Hebrew to be Israel’s official language. Can you imagine if this were not the case? What added character does Israel have because of the Hebrew language?
  1. Give your students our Kahoot on the Hebrew Language Revival!
  2. Lead a podcast listening party. Download our PDF Guide

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