Hebrew is a Northwest Semitic language within the Afroasiatic language family. It served as the language of the Israelites, and was the language in which Jewish scriptures such as the Tanakh and the Torah were composed. After declining under the Roman Empire, it was revived in the 20th century as the official language of Israel.

Quotes about edit

  • Hebrew was generally considered the province of men and became associated with the male scholarly elite, in contrast to Yiddish, which became linked with women, common folk, and daily routine.
    • Carole B. Balin, To Reveal Our Hearts: Jewish Women Writers in Tsarist Russia (2000)
  • Attempting to meet European standards, Jewish writers exerted tremendous efforts to develop and enrich the Jews' internal languages of Hebrew and Yiddish, all the while combating unfavorable ideas about each...Hebrew, for its part, was considered a dead tongue in need of massive revision. Both languages were invigorated by the extensive enterprise of translation and the expansion of Jewish writing to areas like politics, art, and sciences, which, with rare exception, were not previously found within either canon.
    • Carole B. Balin, To Reveal Our Hearts: Jewish Women Writers in Tsarist Russia (2000)
  • To this day our language has kept its stony, concentrated, concise character, striving for the essential. This makes Hebrew practically untranslatable; a phrase of three words in Hebrew becomes a phrase of eighteen words in French, so you can imagine what it does to poetry...Our history is not only the history of a people, but also the history of a language...Some parts of our tradition are widely known; others are less known because it is so difficult to translate from Hebrew. Whole theories were built upon incorrect translations from Hebrew.
    • Shulamith Hareven "Literature in the Age of Masses" in The Vocabulary of Peace: Life, Culture, and Politics in the Middle East (1995)
  • [It is the] iron law of every colonizing movement, a law which knows of no exceptions, a law which existed in all times and under all circumstances. If you wish to colonize a land in which people are already living, you must provide a garrison on your behalf. Or else – or else, give up your colonization, for without an armed force which will render physically impossible any attempts to destroy or prevent this colonization, colonization is impossible, not “difficult”, not “dangerous” but IMPOSSIBLE! … Zionism is a colonizing adventure and therefore it stands or falls by the question of armed force. It is important to build, it is important to speak Hebrew, but, unfortunately, it is even more important to be able to shoot – or else I am through with playing at colonialization.
    • Ze'ev Jabotinsky, as quoted in Lenni Brenner, The Iron Wall: Zionist Revisionism from Jabotinsky to Shamir (1984), p. 78.
  • the silence of women was, for better or worse, built into the culture of Hebrew as a sacred language. Talmudic study was not for women, nor was the language of liturgy; women's worship was separated from men's; tkhines, special prayers for women, were usually written in Yiddish, the "mother tongue." Thus the sacred linguistic soil from which Hebrew poetry-sacred and secular-sprang for nearly two millennia, was off-limits for most women.
    • Alicia Ostriker Forward to The Defiant Muse: Hebrew Feminist Poems from Antiquity (1999)
  • I think that there's something really capacious about Jewish anarchism and its multilingualism, its “Yes, and…”-ness. Think about the importance of multilingualism and contrast that with Zionist single-language ideology: just Hebrew and nothing but Hebrew.

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