Since 2007, Hebrew language charter schools – publicly-financed K-8 schools teaching Modern Hebrew to religiously, linguistically, and culturally diverse students – have emerged in cities across the United States. This article analyzes the contested notion of language ownership by exploring a set of discussions in over 75 articles in the American Jewish press about Hebrew charters. This article demonstrates how anxieties about communal production and reproduction are traceable through the circulated discourses about Hebrew learning.
Analysis reveals how Hebrew charters are perceived as both a threating practice and an opportunity for communal renewal and growth. Hebrew charters illuminate how language ownership is negotiated through printed media and how one community grapples with the challenges and possibilities that language diffusion presents.