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Why Don’t More American Jews Learn Hebrew?

March 10 2016

The answer, according to Dara Horn, is not simply that American Jews don’t care. She writes:

The reason American Jews don’t learn Hebrew is because they think they can’t. And I understand why. For much of my life, Hebrew scared me. This became rather inconvenient while I was pursuing graduate studies in Hebrew literature. But I had reasons to be scared. . . .

You see, I already knew that I could never actually learn Hebrew—real Hebrew, fluent Hebrew, Hebrew where you could understand Israeli TV—simply because only three kinds of American Jews were allowed to learn Hebrew, and I wasn’t any of them.

First, I wasn’t Orthodox. No one was sending me to a gap-year yeshiva; no one I knew threw around Hebrew phrases; no one I knew went on aliyah. Second, I never lived in Israel and had no relatives there. . . . And third, I never went to a Jewish school. . . .

It is now very unclear to me why more American Jews do not learn Hebrew. The excuses about assimilation and so forth do not explain why already-committed Jews do not learn Hebrew better, or why we are letting supposed impossibilities stand in our way. And now is exactly the moment when a massive initiative encouraging Diaspora Jews to learn Hebrew might actually work. With Israel’s high-tech energy, and with the Israeli government’s eagerness to draw in Diaspora Jews, shouldn’t there be an app for that?

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Read more at Stroum Center for Jewish Studies

More about: American Jewry, Hebrew, Jewish education, Technology

Germany’s Bid to Keep Israel off the UN Security Council

March 21 2018

The Jewish state has never held a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council. For the first 50 years of its existence, it was denied membership in any of the UN’s regional groups, which control candidacies for these rotating seats. Then it was finally admitted to the Western European and Others Group, which promptly agreed to wait another twenty years before approving Jerusalem for a Security Council candidacy. Now, Benny Avni notes, Germany is poised to block action:

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Read more at New York Post

More about: Germany, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-German relations, United Nations