New Festival Celebrates Hebrew Language and Culture

March 15-30, 2015

Source: Jewish Daily Forward 


A show at Steven Wise Free Synagogue in Manhattan on March 15,2015, “Music Talks: Peter and the Wolf,” marked the opening of a remarkable two-week Hebrew festival called “Hagigah Ivrit” taking place in Manhattan until March 30. The festival, which hopes to raise the profile of the Hebrew language in North America through a variety of artistic and academic events, is sponsored by the Council for Hebrew Language and Culture in North America, the World Zionist Organization, The Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life, and the Israeli-American Council. Similar festivals are being planned in Toronto, Boston, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco.


Throughout the two weeks, Hagigah Ivrit is focusing simultaneously on two groups: Israeli-Americans and the American-Jewish community. Although the activities at Steven Wise following the concert, including the book fair, arts and crafts, storytime and a family musical production called “Festifun2” were clearly geared to Israeli-American families, other events during the week aim to attract American Jews who don’t know much Hebrew, like a free class for beginners; a kibbutz-style sing-along with Israeli beer, and exhibits of works by Israeli artists Joseph Bau and Barbara Wolff.


Other events are taking place at the JCC of Manhattan, Bnei Jeshurun and other venues around the upper west side of Manhattan.


Several years ago, the World Zionist Organization decided that something had to be done about the woeful state of spoken Hebrew in North America. In 2013 the organization invited 70 community leaders, teachers, scholars and writers, all of whom were involved in promoting Hebrew, for a conference in New Jersey to discuss how to inspire American Jews and their children to speak, read and write in Hebrew. We realized that a 2-week long collaboration drawing on local talent could have a major impact on the community, and the idea of a Hagigah Ivrit just took off.


Read the entire article at the Jewish Daily Forward.

Updated: Apr. 02, 2015