2013-11-27 / Editorial

A miracle for modern times: reviving Hebrew in the Diaspora

Chanukah’s literal translation is “rededication.” This 2,200-year-old holiday celebrates one of the greatest miracles in Jewish history – the oil that enabled ancient Jews to recommit the second Temple of Jerusalem to God.

A new rededication movement is underway to revive the use of Hebrew among Jews outside of Israel. If it can be accomplished, it may be hailed as a modern miracle.

A new organization, the Hebrew Language Council, held its inaugural conference in Newark, New Jersey earlier this month.

“Our aim is to lead a movement of Hebrewspeakers and Hebrew-lovers in the United States and Canada, a movement that will connect people to the Jewish culture, religion and language,” says Dr. Simcha Leibovich, of the World Zionist Organization and founding member of HLC.

In ancient days, the rededication was a triumph over cut-and-dry oppression. The victorious Maccabees rededicated the second Temple, previously desecrated by tormentors.

In modern times, the tyrant is subtler; it’s assimilation. The recent Pew Research Center study put a spotlight on the continued high rates of intermarriage and decreased religious identification.

Reviving Hebrew has strong support in diverse circles. The council brings together representatives of Reform, Conservative and Orthodox movements as well as Israel’s Education Ministry and North American based Hebrew language organizations.

The founders say Hebrew can serve as a bond between Jews around the world, strengthening Jewish identify.

On this Festival of Lights, we celebrate the ancient triumphs that bonded our people and enabled them to flourish. We also applaud modernday efforts to forge deeper connections between Judaism and the Jewish people. .

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