Simon Dubnow Institute
for Jewish History and Culture at Leipzig University

Winter Semester 2011

Secularizing Hebrew. On the Historical Transformation of a Sacred Language


Instructors: Prof. Dr. Dan Diner/Dr. Jan Eike Dunkhase

Time: Thursday, 17:15–18:45 p.m. (every other week)

Place: Simon Dubnow Institute, Goldschmidtstr. 28


The Research Colloquium in the Winter Semester 2011 will explore the transformation of Hebrew from a purely sacred to a secular language. The language change was both an expression and a driving force of the general secularization of Jewish life in the modern age.


Early traces of this process can already be found in medieval Spain. The Christian-Humanist field of Hebrew studies in the early modern period imbued the language with greater importance beyond the realm of Judaism. By the end of the 18th century, decisive new impulses arose in the Jewish Enlightenment (Haskala). The secularization of Hebrew reached a high tide and breakthrough in the course of Jewish nation-building. At the same time, sacral elements found their way into the political discourse of the developing Israeli state.


The colloquium will seek to illuminate the dialectic of this language change from different perspectives. The thematic spectrum of contributions from linguistics, literary studies and the historical sciences reflects the spatial-temporal disparity of the topic under focus.




Thursday, 3 November 2011

José Martínez Delgado (Granada)

Secularization through Arabization.

The Revival of Hebrew in al-Andalus


Thursday, 24 November 2011

Reimund Leicht (Jerusalem)

Johannes Reuchlin und der Kanon der hebräischen Literatur


Thursday, 15 December 2011

Anat Feinberg (Heidelberg)

Versuche und Versuchungen.

Hebräische Gegenwartsliteratur und Sprachwandel


Thursday, 19 January 2012

Ittai J. Tamari (München)

Typographische Säkularisierung?

Die moderne hebräische Standardschrift »Frank-Rühl«


Thursday, 2 February 2012

Ron Kuzar (Haifa)

Colonial Neologisms.

Terms of Territorialization in Early Modern Hebrew