Show/hide main menu

Jewish Studies

Language, Nation, and Modernity: Hebrew in Europe, 1800 to the present

A joint King’s-UCL international conference

hebrew in europe2London, 11–13 May 2014

Co-organized by Lily Kahn (UCL) and Andrea Schatz (King’s College London)

Academic advisors:Israel Bartal (Hebrew University) and Lewis Glinert (Dartmouth College)


Hebrew in Europe programme final (pdf)

Sunday, 11 May 2014 
Venue: Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, Wilkins Building, UCL

16.30 – Welcome
Lily Kahn, UCL
Andrea Schatz, King’s College London

17.00 – Session 1: Yiddish and Other Beginnings
Chair: Helen Beer (UCL)

Ken Frieden, Syracuse University
Mendel Lefin as an Unacknowledged Precursor of “Mendele”

Rebecca Wolpe, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Sailing into Uncharted Waters: Maskilic Sea Adventures as a Reflection of the Development of Modern Hebrew Belles Lettres in the Mid-Nineteenth Century

Shlomo Berger, Universiteit van Amsterdam
Living Apart Together: The Position of Hebrew from a Yiddish Point of View 


19.00 – Keynote lecture
Chair: Andrea Schatz (King’s College London)

Israel Bartal, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
The Language of European Pinkasim: A Source of Modern Hebrew?

Monday, 12 May 2014
Venue: Council Room, Strand Campus, King’s College London

9.00 – Session 2: Linguistic Innovation and Preservation
Chair: Ada Rapoport-Albert (UCL)

Ohad Cohen, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
The Question of Grammatical Agreement in the Satirical Language of Joseph Perl 

Keren Dubnov, Hebrew Language Academy and David Yellin College
The Vocabulary of the Material World in “Sefer Kur Oni” (Robinson Crusoe) (in Hebrew)

Doly Levi, Levinsky College of Education
Elhanan Leib Levinsky’s Feuilletons – A Linguistic and Stylistic Study (in Hebrew)


11.00 – Session 3: Teaching Hebrew
Chair: Jonathan Stökl (King’s College London)

Tal Kogman, Tel Aviv University
Hebrew for the Young Generation: The Educational Reform of the German-Jewish Haskalah

Dorothea Salzer, University of Potsdam
Teaching Hebrew in a Maskilic Setting: Immanuel Moritz Neumann’s Sefer torat ha-elohim (1816/17) 

Vered Tohar, Bar Ilan University
Whose Text Is this? Constructing a National Ethos by Means of a Traditional Narrative in the Hebrew Textbooks of Europe, 1850-1950

14.00 – Session 4: Becoming Modern, Becoming Hebrew
Chair: François Guesnet (UCL)

Lee Shai Weissbach, University of Louisville
Personal Testimony: A First Encounter with the Hebrew of the Haskalah

Jörg Schulte, University of Cologne
Hebrew Humanism in Central and Eastern Europe


15.30 – Session 5: Among the Nations
Chair: Geoffrey Khan (University of Cambridge)

Asher Salah (Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design)
Hebrew in Italy in the Nineteenth Century

Alessandro Grazi
Facing Modernity: The Hebrew Language as a Guardian of Jewish Tradition and National Pride in Nineteenth-Century Italy

Irene Zwiep (Universiteit van Amsterdam)
Holy or Jewish? Hebrew in the Netherlands, 1796–present


17.30 – Keynote lecture
Chair: Lily Kahn (UCL)

Lewis Glinert, Dartmouth College
Hebrew Lexis in Contemporary Haredi English: An Emergent Discourse Style

Tuesday, 13 May 2014
Venue: Council Room, Strand Campus, King’s College London

9.00 – Session 6: The Place of Hebrew, Hebrew as a Place
Chair: Tamar Drukker (SOAS)

Yael Almog, UC Berkeley/Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung, Berlin
Benjamin and Scholem’s Correspondence and the Hebrew Trope

Shachar Pinsker, University of Michigan
“A Hebrew Table at Café Monopol”? The Place of Hebrew in European Modernism

Miriam Neiger, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
“Uleshoni kol kakh Ivrit”"ולשוני כל כך עברית") ): Avigdor Hameiri and the Question of the Hebrew Language in Hungary of the Early Twentieth Century

Katsiaryna Taliaronak, National Institute for Higher Education, Minsk
It Will Survive! The Hebrew Language in the Jewish Agricultural Colonies in Belarus


11.30 – Session 7: In Translation
Chair: Tsila Ratner (UCL)

Adriana X. Jacobs (University of Oxford)
Hebrew Poetry in European Translation

Anne Golomb Hoffman (Fordham University)
Ambivalent Attractions: Agnon’s “Toytentanz” from Buczacz to Jaffa and Berlin, in Yiddish, Hebrew, and German

12.30 – Concluding Roundtable
Chair: Paul Joyce (King’s College London)

All welcome!

The event is free, but registration is recommended. Please visit Eventbrite to register for your ticket(s).

If you have questions, please contact Mr Steffan Mathias:


Call for papers

The Hebrew language played a vital role in Jewish religious, political and cultural life in modern Europe.

The Enlightenment project of renewing the Hebrew language as the idiom of the Jewish nation in the diaspora signalled the commitment of the maskilim to continuity as well as change. In the nineteenth century, the Hebrew language remained relevant for Jews and Jewish self-assertion in Western Europe as well as Eastern Europe, and it became a central aspect  in the development of various forms of Jewish nationalism.

In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the Hebrew language continues to be present in European Jewish religious practice and thought, in literature, the arts, architecture and the media as a central feature of Jewish identity, nourished by the modern life of Hebrew in Israel and by the many ways in which the language facilitates access to religious as well as cultural traditions. 

Yet, it has often been asserted that Hebrew lost its centrality in Jewish life in Western Europe when, after 1800, Jews adopted the vernaculars of the emerging nation states, and that it only regained momentum with the rise of the East European Haskalah and early Zionism in the middle of the nineteenth century.

Similarly, although the religious and cultural centrality of Hebrew to Jews in Eastern Europe has never been questioned, scholars have tended to consider Eastern European varieties of Hebrew as inferior and have therefore badly neglected them; instead, research has focused largely on the revernacularization project in Palestine and the development of Israeli Hebrew. 

This situation was challenged already two decades ago, in Lewis Glinert’s volume Hebrew in Ashkenaz with its introductory research agenda and by Israel Bartal’s contributions to the linguistic and cultural analysis of Ashkenazic Hebrew and the various traditions that informed its renewal in the nineteenth century.

In recent years there has been a growing recognition that Modern Hebrew emerged as the result of complex interactions between Jewish and other national and cultural movements in Europe before it became the language of the Yishuv. There is also a growing interest in the ongoing transmission of Modern Hebrew as a vital component of Jewish life in the diaspora following the emergence of Israeli Hebrew.

This workshop aims to bring together scholars who have contributed to this renewed interest in the European dimension of Modern Hebrew and are conducting research on a variety of issues relating to this topic. We invite proposals for papers of approximately 20 minutes on themes including (but not limited to) the following:

  •  linguistic aspects of Hebrew in Europe, e.g. its relationship to earlier strata of the language, influence of Yiddish and other European languages, the links between various synchronic forms of European Hebrew (Hasidic, Maskilic, etc.
  •  translingual practices, e.g. the continued use of Hebrew as a component of European vernaculars among Jewish speakers and the relationship between Hebrew, Yiddish and the vernaculars in Jewish cultural, literary and political practices
  •  transnational practices, e.g. the role of Hebrew in Jewish intellectual, scholarly and literary communication across European boundaries
  •  Christian Orientalism and Hebrew language politics
  •  the role of Hebrew in Sephardic Europe and contacts between Sephardic and Ashkenazic Hebrew movements
  •  the Hebrew language as reflecting and shaping internal diversity (e.g. religious and secular, urban and rural, gender and class identities)
  •  Hebrew language practices in their relation to Jewish interpretations of diaspora, nation, citizenship and belonging
  •  the competition between Yiddish and Hebrew nationalisms and its impact on negotiations about the meanings of the Hebrew language
  •  Hebrew in Europe as it reflects and shapes relationships to the Yishuv and to Israel.

The organizing institutions will cover two nights’ accommodation and will be able to provide a number of bursaries to cover travel expenses.

Please submit proposals (300 words) with a short CV and indication of whether you would like to be considered for a bursary to Mr Steffan Mathias ( by Thursday 12 September 2013.

Sitemap Site help Terms and conditions  Privacy policy  Accessibility  Modern slavery statement  Contact us

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454