In the midst of the fighting in the south of Israel, the cabinet approved the founding of a national center for the Hebrew language in Jerusalem. The new center will house the Academy of the Hebrew Language and a museum devoted to the history of the Hebrew language, the first of its kind. The center will serve as a lodestone for visitors from Israel and abroad and as a national and cultural meeting point for the citizens of Israel and Diaspora Jews.
The Academy of the Hebrew Language has been charged with overseeing the preparations for founding the center. Academy president Professor Moshe Bar-Asher has been appointed chairperson of the project’s steering committee and will coordinate the overall effort in cooperation with the Office of the Prime Minister and other government offices, the Jerusalem municipality, the World Zionist Organization, and donors. In addition, the government has earmarked funds for planning the center. The Jerusalem municipality and the World Zionist Organization will assist in funding the planning stage.
The president of the Academy thanked the Prime Minister and the cabinet for their decision, noting that this step places Israel among the ranks of other states that have set their national language at the center of their existence and culture. Professor Bar-Asher recalled how David Ben-Gurion sat in on the cabinet session that approved the founding of the Academy of the Hebrew Language in the middle of the War of Independence. Ben-Gurion stated that it honored the government of Israel to take time at such a moment to address the status of Hebrew and to found a home for Hebrew.
The Minister of Culture and Sport, MK Limor Livnat, expressed approval of the government decision and noted that this government has devoted attention and resources to strengthening the status of the Hebrew language.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu summed up the session, noting that the founding of a center for Hebrew is closely tied to the formation of foci of identification and our national-historical heritage.
The cabinet current decision to found a center for the Hebrew language is a historic one. Its realization will be challenging, both because of the unique history of the Hebrew language, especially in the past 120 years, and because of the living, effervescent nature of Hebrew now and in the future in the State of Israel.