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National Center for the Hebrew Language (NCHL), records

 Collection
Identifier: I-526

Scope and Content Note

The records of the National Center for the Hebrew Language represent its work to promote the learning of Hebrew by adult Jews in the United States, especially in reading and speaking. Its structure, mission, and activities are documented in both early meeting notes and papers pertaining to the formation of NCHL (its prehistory) and, once it was formally set up, in various files of NCHL meeting minutes, reports, budget proposals, lists of goals for the future, and action plans which augment the meeting notes and minutes. Its efforts to network with other organizations are implicit in this material, rather than being a clearly-defined separate body of data. Its advocacy for learning Hebrew is reflected in paper copies of key website pages, and in NCHL press releases and general promotional literature. Its publications files and education activities files document NCHL efforts to provide resources for studying Hebrew. Its public program activities are represented by programs of the Ulpans, and announcements of the "Lit thru Lunch" events and of the Hanukkah concerts; there are also two files of photographs, which contain several group photos of what appear to be various Hebrew language classes. Reaction to the activities of the National Center for the Hebrew Language is reflected in the media coverage files.

Some folders contain material which is not evident from their labels. These include Folder 1, which has a signed letter from the novelist Herman Wouk; Folder 10, which contains NCHL's Documentation of Incorporation as a Non-Profit on May 13, 1996; Folder 27, which includes sheet music for various Hebrew songs, including Hatikvah); Folder 34, which holds extensive biographical information on the writer Abraham B. Yehoshua; Folder 37, which provides the NCHL Vision Statement, along with text on NCHL accomplishments as they are described on the organization's website (URL: www.ivrit.org); Folder 40, which has publication information in addition to a list of issues on the NCHL newsletter Ivrit Now, namely, that it ceased publication with the v. VII (2) Spring-Summer 2004 issue, and that its usual frequency was 3 times a year; and Folder 44, whose photographic material consists of slides and negatives.

Other notes pertaining to material in the folders with print material (Folders 1-41) include the following: The material is in English, unless otherwise noted. In the events folders for GA meetings (Folders 25-30), the organization meeting is the General Assembly ("GA") of the Council of Jewish Federations. In Folder 20, the book by Alvin Schiff was originally paired with one by the NCHL Executive Director, Joseph Lowin, entitled Hebrew Talk: 101 Hebrew Roots and the Stories They Tell (Oakland, CA: EKS Publishing Co., 2004). This latter title was removed from the NCHL archives and was added to the American Jewish Historical Society Library.

The types of material found in this collection include books, documents, minutes, newspaper clippings, photographs, programs, reports, and one serial, Ivrit Now.

The collection is in English and Hebrew.

The collection is arranged in two series.

Dates

  • undated, 1906, 1993-2004
  • Majority of material found within 1995 - 2003

Creator

Language of Materials

The collection is in English and Hebrew.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers by permission of the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society, except items that are restricted due to their fragility.

Use Restrictions

Information concerning the literary rights may be obtained from the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society. Users must apply in writing for permission to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection. For more information contact:

American Jewish Historical Society, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY, 10011

email: reference@ajhs.org

Historical Note

National Center for the Hebrew Language (New York) (1993-to present)

The National Center for the Hebrew Language (NCHL), headquartered in New York City, was formed in November 1995 by the Joint Authority for Jewish/Zionist Education of the World Zionist Organization; NCHL files indicate that planning of the organization began in September, 1992. A chronology of steps toward its realization as an official organization, submitted by Carol Diament, Chair of the Hebrew Language Committee of the American Advisory Council to the Joint Authority for Jewish Zionist Education [JAJZE], summarizes the preliminary plans and activities undertaken to establish the NCHL from September 1992-July 1995.

A report from the NCHL executive director indicates that the purpose of NCHL is to promote "culture and education in the United States through the promotion and study of the Hebrew language." It continues,

The Hebrew language … is an indispensable element of Jewish culture, Jewish identity, Jewish history and Jewish community. Hebrew is at the root of the Jewish textual tradition, both literary and liturgical. As a living language, Hebrew remains an essential cornerstone of Jewish peoplehood, connecting Israeli and world Jewry.1

Or, as another undated document by Dina Chardin puts it: "English is the most powerful language in the world. But we need Hebrew to empower ourselves as Jews."2 The mission by which NCHL defines itself is fourfold: "to be an advocate for the Hebrew language; to serve as a Hebrew language resource center; to be a catalyst for networking among organizations and professionals in the field of Hebrew language and culture; and to produce public programs in Hebrew language and culture."3

On March 13, 1996, the National Center for the Hebrew Language was formally incorporated as a non-profit organization. In 1997, it began publication of its signature newsletter, Ivrit Now. In 1998, NCHL began a "Learn thru Lit" program with a pilot offering in March. NCHL went online with a website in December, 1997. In February, 1999, it published a Directory of Hebrew Classes, detailing over 150 places where instruction in the Hebrew language is offered in the United States, Canada and Israel. Starting in the 1990s, NCHL has also sponsored mini-intensive Hebrew-language study courses (Ulpans) at the General Assembly annual meetings of the United Jewish Communities and a Hanukka (as spelled by the NCHL) Festival of Hebrew Choral Groups in the Metlife Building in New York City. The Ulpans, the Hanukkah concerts, and the "Learn thru Lit" programs have all continued to the present, and are flourishing. As of 2001-2002, the NCHL website (www.ivrit.org) had been accessed by over two million people, and undated later literature indicates that hits on the website have doubled.

Footnotes

  1. 1 National Center for the Hebrew Language. Report. February 10, 1999, p.1. (Folder 13)
  2. 2 Charnin, Dina. National Center for the Hebrew Language: Underlying Philosophy. Undated, p.1. (Folder 10)
  3. 3 The National Center for the Hebrew Language. About the NCHL. Undated. (Folder 31)

Extent

1.75 Linear Feet (3 manuscript boxes, 1 half manuscript box)

Abstract

Contains records on the formation, mission, vision, and activities of the National Center for the Hebrew Language, as reflected in organizational documents (including minutes), event programs and announcements, publications (including the NCHL newsletter, Ivrit Now), photographs, promotional literature (including press releases), media coverage, and the NCHL website.

Acquisition Information

Gift of the National Center for the Hebrew Language, donated in February, 2005 by Executive Director Joseph Lowin.
Title
Guide to the Records of National Center for the Hebrew Language (NCHL), undated, 1906, 1993-2004   *I-526
Status
In Progress
Author
Processed by Carmen Hendershott
Date
© 2011
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

Contact:
15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States