American Jews need to learn Hebrew

Over the last several years, Antisemitism has exploded across the US. While antisemitism has always cast its creeping shadow over America, it has exploded over the last few years, which has made the country increasingly uncomfortable for its millions of Jewish citizens. Over the last few weeks, Jewish students have been harassed and intimidated at Universities where anti-Israel protests have put the place of Jews at America’s top universities into question. These protests, combined with the rise of antisemitism across the country, represent an immediate and dire threat to American Jewry. This is an issue that must be dealt with. While I cannot offer a solution to antisemitism as a whole, smarter people than me have tried, I would like to suggest a different approach to our immediate challenges. While most recent attempts to decrease antisemitism have focused on changing others’ opinions and actions towards Jews, I would suggest we should instead work to make the American Jewish community more strong, resilient, and unified. The way we can do this is by the American Jewish community as a whole committing to learning the language of our ancestors, Hebrew.


American Jews need something that we can all rally around and which we have in common. American Jews need actions we can take in order to help and strengthen our community. American Jews at large deciding to learn Hebrew will strengthen the Jewish community and make us resilient to anything we may face in the future. This would be a strong proud action American Jews can take to ensure our community in America endures. I personally have been learning Hebrew for the last year and a half, and it has connected me more than I ever could imagine to Judaism, Israel, and my fellow Jews. Whenever I hear Hebrew spoken in public and recognize what people are saying, I get a certain excitement. American Jews learning Hebrew will bring us together, add to cultural cohesion, allow us a common language, and strengthen the bonds between each Jew in the United States.


Learning Hebrew will give the American Jewish community a stronger connection to our religion. Many people I know feel that Tefillah, Torah, and synagogue in general do not have particular meaning to them because they do not understand what they are saying. If people learned Hebrew this would help them understand the service and the traditions. Having this in common will help connect American Jews to both our ancestors and Israel. Being able to read the Torah, Talmud, and all other Jewish books in their original language is something that will connect every Jew to their ancestors and heritage. In addition to this, being able to consume TV, Social Media, and novels from Israel will help American Jews learn more and connect deeper with Israel. In addition to this, the art and literature that would be produced from this would add beauty to Hebrew. With millions of new Hebrew speakers surely new books and other media would be created which would enhance the beauty of the Hebrew language. Picture the literary works that could be created from the mix of an American upbringing and culture combined with the Hebrew language.


The last reason Jews need to learn Hebrew is to give us a common non-English language. When two American Jews meet now, the conversation is out of necessity in English. As the position of American Jews becomes increasingly volatile, we need a common language that is not understandable beyond ourselves. What we need is a language that only we understand so that we can communicate during dangerous times without others understanding us. This will also enable more conversation with Israelis which will strengthen world Jewry’s bonds. This will enable conversation both between American Jews but also between American Jews and Jews from Israel and across the Diaspora. This will significantly strengthen the Jewish community and will give us pride, cultural cohesion, and a common language. 


How is it possible for millions of American Jews to learn a new language? I will say this upfront, it will not be easy or simple, but in the words of Herzl the founder of modern Zionism, “if you will it, it is no dream.” The whole community will need to will it and will it hard. While I will not lay out an exhaustive plan here, I can make a few suggestions. The first thing is that, as individuals, we need to commit to this. Use the Internet, books, TV, language learning apps, etc. In addition to this, we will need synagogues and other organizations in the Jewish community to take steps to teach Hebrew in classes. Also, we need to have conversations with one another to help each other learn. If we all commit to learning Hebrew, it will not be easy but it is possible.


Overall there is a lot of work ahead of us. We, as American Jews, must strengthen our community by learning Hebrew. That will make us stronger as a community and stronger within our country. This starts with us as individuals. Go and learn Hebrew for yourselves starting today. If enough people do this we will have a far stronger Jewish community ready to face the future. This will create an America where we can finally create the strongest possible Jewish community. While learning Hebrew will not end antisemitism, it will make us resilient far more resilient to antisemitism. This will create a stronger Jewish community across America, which will be strong, resilient, and unified for anything we may face in the future.

About the Author
William Goloboy was born in Sharon Massachusetts in 2006. He is currently a Junior at Gann Academy.
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