Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Israel – CCLI. The Language of the Realm (1 of 7)

How do you resurrect a language that has been out of use for 2,000 years?  Should you even consider reviving the language of the bible?

The early Jewish pioneers in Palestine faced these questions, and ultimately decided that Hebrew should be the language of the Jewish state.

Beside the emotional aspect, there was a practical facet.  If indeed the dream of having a Jewish state was to become reality, it would no doubt attract Jews from the four corners of the world, each bringing his own language.  Therefore, the need for a common language would be imperative.

Which language?  English?  It’s the Lingua Franca of the world, and it would therefore be very practical to adopt it.  Alas, as I have already pointed out, there was no love lost between these early settlers and the British.  Arabic?  It’s the language of the neighborhood, it is rich, flexible, and can range from highly literally to the common people language.  Every Arab nation has their Ommeyya or street Arabic, and they all share the Na’haoui or classical Arabic.  That said it was obvious early on that Jews and Arabs were never destined to fall into each other arms!

During my years in Israel, I heard many versions of how the language of the bible became the Hebrew used today in Israel.

Bialik, a poet, is credited with starting the process.  It is said that he taught his family Hebrew, and thereafter the members of the family communicated among themselves in Hebrew only.

No doubt, once the early Jewish settlers decided to adopt Hebrew as the language of the realm, the rest was a question of investing the necessary efforts to revive this ancient tongue.

(I attempted to research this area, and provide the reader with more details, but the research material did not agree with the little I know of the birth of Modern Hebrew).

By the time I arrived in Israel, Hebrew was well established.  There were books, newspapers, and a language that fully met the requirements of the 20th century.

If you ever go to Israel, you will not miss the fact that Hebrew is now a living language:  Adolescents talk a mile a minute!  Women talk three times as much as men!  Not very different from other languages!

As a new immigrant, one of my early priorities was to learn Hebrew.  You learned Hebrew in a language school referred to as an ulpan.

And there you had choices.  It could be a kibbutz ulpan where you worked for half a day, and studied Hebrew for the other half.  Your work covered room and board, and the Hebrew instruction, in other words it didn’t cost you anything.

If you worked, you could take night courses, but you had to pay for them; conceivably though your company may be willing to pay your fees if you’re valuable enough to them.

Finally, you could learn Hebrew as a full-time student. The Soukhnout had ulpanim that offered room and board, and all day instruction – at a hefty cost.  It was Hebrew immersion, and it was the best way to learn this difficult (especially for European immigrants) tongue.

Since we are talking of new immigrants with very little money, the Soukhnout was often willing to loan you the money.

So what happened in my case?

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