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About Hebrew and Yiddish

The study of Hebrew and Yiddish opens a window onto Jewish history and culture from Israel to Europe to the Americas. Hebrew has been a literary and religious language of the Jewish people through two millennia, adapting to fit each time and place up to and including the modern State of Israel. Yiddish is the thousand-year-old vernacular of European Jews, once spoken and written by traditionalists and modernizers alike in Western and Eastern Europe and in diasporic communities all over the world. It remains a thriving language, with large and growing communities of speakers.

The Hebrew and Yiddish program at Johns Hopkins offers undergraduate and graduate students the tools to explore Jewish life in the modern period. From eighteenth-century Europe to contemporary Israel, courses taught in translation present Hebrew and Yiddish literature and film, and other cultural forms such as the visual arts and museums. Some courses offer a class section for students who can read sources in the original language.

Modern Hebrew language is regularly offered on three levels. Yiddish is offered at the Elementary level with higher level courses available as needed. Both Hebrew and Yiddish language classes impart cultural knowledge to develop language competence.

Through the Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Jewish Studies Program, students can increase the depth and breadth of their engagement with Hebrew and Yiddish culture by taking courses with faculty in other departments in subjects from Hebrew Bible to Jewish philosophy and modern Jewish history.

Courses in the Hebrew and Yiddish program count towards the Jewish Studies minor. Most courses earn Humanities credit and some are writing intensive. Language requirements in several undergraduate programs can be satisfied with Hebrew or Yiddish, including English, History, International Studies, and Writing Seminars.