About the Academy 24/07/2018 – Posted in: General

The Academy of the Hebrew Language is the world’s premiere institution for the Hebrew language, and in Israel, its decisions are binding on all governmental agencies. Here, as one would expect, new Hebrew words and terms are created, and standards are set for grammar, orthography, transliteration and punctuation. Its flagship endeavor, however, is its work in preserving the Hebrew language and its development through the Historical Dictionary Project.

As defined in its constitution, the Academy’s functions are to investigate and compile the Hebrew lexicon according to its historical strata and layers, to study the structure, history, and offshoots of the Hebrew language and to direct the development of Hebrew in light of its nature, requirements, and potential and its daily and academic needs.

The Hebrew language is the thread that has bound the Jewish people together for millennia, both in liturgy and literature, and, in ancient times, as a spoken language. In the history of modern Zionism, however, if there is one event more miraculous than the establishment of the State of Israel, it is the revival of Hebrew as its common tongue. To make this revitalization possible, an uncommon organization was formed: the Academy of the Hebrew Language, the Israeli body with legislated authority to study, guard, and guide the development of the Hebrew language.

The miracle of its rejuvenation today is credited to the work of journalist/scholar Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, often called the Father of Modern Hebrew. His work from the 1880s onwards was monumentally important for the language’s dissemination and advancement in theYishuvsettlement in the Land of Israel.

Alongside Ben-Yehuda, however, were other Hebrew grammarians and scholars as well as teachers of general topics, who together pushed for the establishment of a central body, Va’ad Halashon (The Language Committee). The Committee was founded in stages beginning in 1889, and more formally in 1905. By 1953, the committee was legislatively established as the Academy of the Hebrew Language, the name it still bears today.