The Story of Hebrew
Chair: Jeremy Dauber
Sponsored by the National Library of Israel
In this unique narrative of the Hebrew language from biblical to modern times, Professor Lewis Glinert explores the extraordinary hold that Hebrew has had on Jews and Christians, who have invested it with a symbolic power far beyond that of any other language in history. Preserved by the Jews for millennia, Hebrew was a bridge to Greek and Arab science; Kabbalists and humanists sought philosophical truth in it; and Colonial Americans used it to shape their own Israelite political identity. In the past 70 years, modern spoken and written Hebrew has evolved into a richly resonant and fully metaphoric language, now able to express the most subtle and nuanced contemporary thoughts and feelings.
Lewis Glinert is Professor of Hebrew Studies at Dartmouth College, where he is also affiliated with the Program in Linguistics. His previous books include The Grammar of Modern Hebrew and The Joys of Hebrew. Drawing on years of research, The Story of Hebrew asks the intriguing question: if Moses were to walk along a Tel Aviv street, would he understand the conversation? The story of the origins and evolution of the first language of Israelis today is extraordinary.
Jeremy Dauber is the Atran Professor of Yiddish Language, Literature and Culture at Columbia University. His research interests include older Yiddish literature, Yiddish and Hebrew literature of the Jewish Enlightenment and the 19th century, and Yiddish theatre. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on Yiddish literature, as well as courses on humour in Jewish literature and American-Jewish literature. Dauber has written several books on Jewish literature, including a biography of Sholem Aleichem which was shortlisted for the National Jewish Book Award.