Hagigah Ivrit: A Celebration of the Hebrew Language

The second annual Hagigah Ivrit of metropolitan New York, March 6-20, 2016 concluded with a sense of a new tradition in the making. Hagigah Ivrit, “Festival of Hebrew,” is a two-week celebration of local events and activities aimed at celebrating the Hebrew language and its culture. The festival in New York was part of an annual national Hebrew language celebration that took place in March in cities throughout North America.

Once considered a cornerstone of culture and civilization, for centuries Hebrew was removed from active conversational use and relegated to religious study. The process of revival of Hebrew began in the 19th Century and expanded rapidly with the establishment of the State of Israel. Hebrew was renewed as an old-new language fusing the energy, creativity and unique cultural achievement of modern Israel with the language’s rich biblical, rabbinic and oral historical language traditions and genres. Now Hebrew is ready for its next incarnation: a global language that links cultures and communities across the world. One step in this approach involves initiatives like Hebrew Language Charter Schools, teaching Hebrew to students of diverse religious and socioeconomic backgrounds using the gold standard in language acquisition, the Proficiency approach. Another step is public festivals that engage participants in the Hebrew language as a living, breathing organism in a wide range of social, cultural and academic media. Hagigah Ivrit is one such endeavor.

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