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German Students Learning Hebrew at Frankfurt University: Jewish Studies Program a Success

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Published on May 25, 2012

You may well wonder why so many Germans are learning Hebrew here at Frankfurt University. Sure, Hebrew is the original language of the Bible, but there are many other reasons and they have nothing to do with theology. 120 students are currently learning Hebrew in the Jewish Studies Program at Frankfurt University, and around 400 have completed the 5 year program. Ten universities across Germany offer Jewish Studies with Hebrew courses and at the moment there are more than 500 students. Hebrew is the only ancient language to have been revived as a modern spoken language. Today, Hebrew still serves as the language of Judaism, and it's also the official language of the state of Israel.

Germany is the third-largest source of European tourism to Israel, about 150,000 German tourists visited the country in 2011, and the Israel Ministry of Tourism plans to raise that number to 200,000 by the end of 2012. The appeal of the holy city is obvious but there are many other reasons to visit Israel. Many tourists from Germany know German can help them if they meet someone who speaks Yiddish, a mixture of German and Hebrew. But now more and more Germans are arriving in Israel with some knowledge of Hebrew to help them better appreciate contemporary Jewish culture and the people living in Israel.

Modern Hebrew is spoken by most of the 8 million people in Israel, and is the second language for 5 million people. However, since Jews live in countries the world over, and around 3 to 4 million Jews in the Diaspora speak modern Hebrew, the language is now spreading to almost all countries and is playing a role in cross cultural communication.

Wilson Ruiz, Jewish News One, Germany.

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