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Hebrew Language, Literature, and Culture

Why Study Hebrew?

The wide appeal of the Hebrew language derives from both its current state and history.

On the one hand, Hebrew is one of the oldest languages still spoken. Classical Hebrew usually refers to the language spoken by ancient Israelites, who flourished between the 10th and the 4th centuries BCE. Hence the Hebrew of the Old Testament is the primary source of our knowledge of these periods, along with numerous ancient inscriptions and documents that provide accounts of the entire area known as “The Cradle of Civilization.” Among the best known are the Dead Sea Scrolls, which date back to Jesus’ time and furnish us with details about his religious affinities and influences.
Due to its remarkable survival, Hebrew today is indispensible for religious practices relying on Biblical heritage as well as in modern research of Religion, Literature, History, and Archeology. For example, Biblical accounts often launch archeological searches whose findings return historical verification or dispute.

On the other hand, Modern Hebrew is spoken today by over 7 million Israelis and numerous Jews worldwide. With over 2,000 years of Jewish Diaspora, Jews who live outside Israel communicate in Hebrew to uphold their ties with their evolving Culture.

Though Hebrew was revived as a spoken language only with the emergence of Zionism in the 19th century, the continuity with the Biblical origins has been maintained. Today millions of contemporary speakers of modern Hebrew are also fluent in the Classical language, which may not be the case with other ancient tongues. Thus, learning modern Hebrew opens to the students both a fascinating old world and a vibrant contemporary one. The thrills of learning a unique script that runs from right to left add to the pleasures associated with the use of a foreign language.

Hebrew Placement Exam

If you have studied Hebrew either formally or informally, lived in Israel, or grown up in a Hebrew-speaking household, you must take a placement exam before the class begins.   If you register for classes without taking the exam and you have prior Hebrew experience (beyond basic reading skills), you will be asked to take the exam and re-register for the correct level of Hebrew class.  For more information on the Hebrew Placement exam, go here. To access the Hebrew exam, please go to MySlice.  If you have any questions, please contact Erella Brown Sofer