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MENA Languages: Hebrew

Hebrew is the only classic language and one of only a handful of ancient languages spoken today. Though today it is spoken in Israel, Hebrew was not spoken for about 2,500 years. In the eighteenth century, those who renewed it chose Biblical Hebrew. Therefore, the differences between Biblical and Modern Hebrew are small. 

Since the rejuvenation of the University of Oklahoma Hebrew program in 2003, hundreds of students have taken Hebrew classes, studied abroad through our scholarship program, attended film festivals and more. Most Hebrew students have had no prior Hebrew-language training and most students in OU Hebrew classes are not Jewish. The Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Linguistics at OU is the only place in the region to offer a full program in Hebrew language at all levels as well as Hebrew/Jewish literature in translation.

Why Study Hebrew at OU?

  • Taught in small classes by skilled and dedicated faculty 
  • Classes promote a stressless and fun environment, providing students with individual attention 
  • Core Hebrew faculty members are native speakers of the language and  passionate instructors, with extensive expertise in teaching and research in second language studies
  • Top-notch language lab is equipped with the best and most up-to-date facilities and contemporary Israeli films
  • Hebrew students gain important reading, writing, and speaking skills
  • Students also gain an understanding of Israeli culture and the ability to read the Bible in its original language
  • Provides preparation for careers in clergy, international business, diplomacy, archaeology, Middle Eastern studies, Judaic studies, Classics and Letters, the travel industry and more

Career Opportunities for Hebrew Speakers

  • Journalism
  • Places of Worship: Church, Synagogue, Mosque     
  • International Corporations and Oil Industry
  • Human Rights Organizations
  • International Business & Relations
  • Law Firms
  • Colleges and Universities
  • Archaeology
  • Government Agencies
  • United States Military and Foreign Service
  • United Nations

Degree Options

OU offers a Minor in Hebrew (PDF), which requires 18 credit hours.

Students may also combine the study of Hebrew with other majors and/or minors such as History, International and Area Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, Anthropology or Liberal Studies.

Courses Offered

 An elementary course in modern and in Biblical Hebrew. The course provides basic understanding, speaking, writing, and reading Hebrew, both modern and Biblical. Similarities and differences between modern and Biblical Hebrew are explored. (F, Sp)

Prerequisite: 1115. Focuses on all language skills: understanding, speaking, writing, and reading both modern and Biblical texts, including further exploring similarities and differences between modern and Biblical Hebrew. At the end of this course, students are expected to write short dialogs. (F, Sp)

Prerequisite: 1225. Further training in understanding, speaking, writing, and reading Hebrew, both modern and Biblical. Emphasis is given to grammar as well as to exploring differences in style between various Biblical texts, such as Torah vs. Prophets. (F)

Prerequisite:2113. Further training in understanding, speaking, writing, and reading Hebrew, both modern and Biblical. Emphasis is given to expansion of vocabulary and strong reinforcement of grammatical structures. (Sp)

Prerequisite: 2213. Continued training in understanding, speaking, writing, and reading literary texts and newspaper articles, as well as Biblical texts, such as poetry. Emphasis is given to discussions on and writing about these texts. (F)

Prerequisite: 3113. Continued instruction in advanced topics in Hebrew. Emphasis is given to formal and informal discussions on and writing about social and professional topics. (Sp)

Prerequisite 2213. This course is all about reading from the Hebrew Bible. Since there is very little difference between Biblical and Modern Hebrew, class will start reading the Hebrew Bible from the first day. Additional grammatical aspects of the language will be explained as we go along. (F)

Introduces Jewish literature from the Hebrew Bible to contemporary American literature. The course is presented as a journey in time, in which stops are made at important periods and places, such as Medieval Spain, Eastern Europe and Israel — covering all significant genres and prominent writers. The course will provide historical and cultural background necessary. Special attention is given to close reading of representative texts and textual analysis. (IRREG)

In this course students are introduced to literary norms of the period and are given literary tools to help them interpret the Biblical texts. The goal of this course is to give students the ability to read both prose and poetry and have the confidence to understand and interpret the texts of the Old Testament. (Sp)