Today, Hebrew is a thriving language—used by millions of speakers around the world to communicate all their thoughts and desires.
That may have seemed almost impossible less than 150 years ago, when the language was thought to exist only in ancient religious texts.
For some two thousand years, Hebrew laid dormant as Jewish communities scattered across the globe, and adopted the languages of their new homes. By the late 1800s, Hebrew vocabulary was limited to archaic and religious concepts of the Hebrew Bible—and lacked words for everything from “newspaper” and “academia” to “muffin” and “car.”
Here’s a look at the bumpy road to modernizing Hebrew and the debates that surround its continuing evolution today.
The Jewish people were once known as Hebrews