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Lead With Hebrew
Why Learn Hebrew
Hebrew is a language both ancient and modern. With an unbroken literary tradition going back more than 3,000 years, it is the premier example of a classical language revived as the living language of a world community and the idiom of their daily lives. Learning Hebrew provides great potential for connecting people to the life and culture of Israel, but that is not all. The unique historical phenomenon of Hebrew’s revitalization, modernization, and secularization, as well as its transformation into a spoken cultural medium, offers meaningful opportunities for students to explore the evolution and purposes of a language and its function in building and sustaining communities worldwide.
Hebrew is one of the two official languages of the State of Israel. It is the primary language of over five million people and it is spoken by over nine million people worldwide. Prior to its revitalization, Hebrew served as a connector of communities around the world and thus powerfully exemplifies the capacity of language to unite people across time and space.
Technology & Business
Hebrew is becoming increasingly relevant in the world of international business, and mastery of the Hebrew language has pragmatic benefits as Israel’s influence in world markets continues to expand. Israel has the third-largest number of companies listed on the NASDAQ exchange, and is recognized worldwide at the cutting-edge of industry developing the technology of the future. Israel is a giant when it comes to innovation: a global leader in R&D spending and VC investment, and home to global R&D centers for the likes of Google, Apple, and IBM. In light of Israel’s growing influence and prominence, fluency in Hebrew and modern secular Israeli culture is a profound asset for students’ futures.
Hebrew is also a desirable language to know for those pursuing a career in government and in areas such as diplomacy, intelligence, and the military. Various departments and agencies of the United States government consider Hebrew an important language, and several offer scholarships and grants to students pursuing studies in this and other non-Western languages considered critical to U.S. security.
Israel is a popular tourist destination, luring travelers with its history, archaeology, beaches, modern cuisine, and religious sites. Proficiency in Hebrew allows people to go beyond the tourist attractions and immerse themselves more fully in the local culture.
An Exciting Challenge
According to ACTFL’s four categories of languages, Hebrew is the third most difficult group for English speakers (more difficult than languages like Spanish and German, equally as challenging as Russian and Turkish, and less challenging than languages like Arabic and Chinese). Learning Hebrew, then, is an exciting intellectual challenge for adult learners that promotes positive brain development in students.
Adapted from the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life
How Will You Lead with Hebrew?
Scholarships and Grants
AJLI offers financial support to students enrolled in a select number of Israeli universities (other institutions will be considered).
AZM grants scholarships to students enrolled at an American university who have been accepted to study abroad at a participating university in Israel during the academic year; applicants must be involved in the Jewish or pro-Israel community.
Each year, the Dorot Foundation selects 12 young Jewish lay leaders (ages 22-29) to live in Israel while completing volunteer and personal learning projects.
Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies Israel Scholarships (+ high school)
The Foundation awards financial assistance for study and travel abroad to Israel to Jewish high-school and college students from the counties of Erie and Niagara, New York.
Jewish students can inquire about funding opportunities for study abroad or academics at the Hillel nearest their campus.
Jewish students can use this online tool to locate their local Federation, which may provide study or travel abroad scholarship opportunities.
Looking for a Hebrew college program? While initially developed to report language enrollment figures, the MLA database provides a comprehensive listing of postsecondary language programs, allowing you to refine your results by language, geographic area, and/or type of institution. The data is based on MLA’s most recent survey of 2013.
To Get Started:
- Select your language(s), up to eight
- Narrow your search, as desired, and click “search now”
- Expand your findings to reveal specific schools offering programs in your language by clicking on the small triangles on your results page
A Few Notable Hebrew Camps & Programs
These students used Hebrew skills while studying abroad in Israel.
Carlo took a Hebrew course while studying dance in Israel.
Several Brigham Young University students have blogged about their experiences at the BYU Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies in Israel. Check out:
Trevor from From Where I Stand
Rachel from Rachel’s Adventures in Jerusalem
McKenzie Sue from In the Shoes of Kenzi Sue
In Association with the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life