Hebrew Language Academy spars with Hebrew U again over English programs

"We call upon the management of the Hebrew University to retract its intention to teach in English," the Academy wrote in a press release.

December 5, 2018 15:22
1 minute read.
Hebrew Language Academy spars with Hebrew U again over English programs

The landmark Hebrew University water tower. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)


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The Academy of the Hebrew Language issued a scathing condemnation of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem for offering undergraduate and graduate programs in English, rather than in Hebrew.

"The language war is still here!" the press release began, referring to the 1913 debate over the language of instruction at the Technion—German or Hebrew—that established the revived Holy Tongue as the language of Zionism.

"One hundred years after the language war," the statement continued, "there are those who prefer another language of instruction in institutions of higher learning. Unwittingly, it is dragging the entire educational system to adopt English as the language of instruction, and enables harming the status of Hebrew and the weakening of its use."

"We call upon the leaders of the Hebrew University to retract their decision to teach in English. Students must stand up for their natural right to speak in Hebrew in all their classes and to write papers in Hebrew and not in other languages," the release continued.

This isn't the first time Hebrew University has earned the ire of the Academy. In 2013, the university senate decided to allow PhD students to write their dissertations in English.

Moshe Bar-Asher, the head of the Academy, responded with a fiery condemnation. "The Hebrew University’s founders—giants among men — who were keen promoters and defenders of the Hebrew language, and taught in it, and demanded that all papers be submitted in Hebrew," Tablet quoted Bar Asher as saying. "The status of Hebrew has been devalued.”

The Academy will be holding an "urgent meeting of the plenum" on Wednesday to discuss the topic.

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