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The First Hebrew Speaking School in the World

Every wonder how Hebrew was established in Israel? Interestingly enough, Hebrew began its revival even before Israel became a state. As early as the late 1800s, a desire to bring up the country's children in the developing language began to arise and led to the creation of the first school taught entirely in Hebrew.

Welcome to Rishon LeZion, a city just south of Tel Aviv, the birthplace of Israeli artist, Yaakov Agam, and the first city in Israel to establish a school completely in Hebrew.

Founded in 1882 as a farm settlement, Rishon LeZion was struggling to survive until philanthropist, Baron Edmund James de Rothschild, became the patron of the city. He instigated major progress in the settlement’s growth in agriculture, citrus, and viticulture. In addition, he aided the growing settlement by funding the digging of a desperately needed well.

By 1886, the settlement began to prosper and grew to over 300 people with dozens of children in need of proper education. To fill this need, a school was established, the first modern school that was taught exclusively in Hebrew.

Hebrew all day long

Before the school could open a few issues needed to be ironed out. The first being: boys and girls could not study together. As a result, two separate schools were established in private homes. Second, the families living in Rishon LeZion all spoke a variety of languages. A common language needed to be chosen, but which language? Hebrew!

Hebrew was only starting to be established as a language in Israel so the teachers of Rishon LeZion had no textbooks in Hebrew. What did they do? They created the textbooks themselves, even creating new words and terms that did not exist yet to aid them in their lessons.

It was not until around 1900, that the two separate schools were united. Eliezer Ben Yehuda, the man known as the reviver of the Hebrew language, was stationed as a teacher at the school and wrote the book, "דברי ימי ישראל" (Chronicles of Israel), while he taught there. The school only received the name, "Haviv" in 1951 after Dov Haviv-Lubman, who was the former chairman of the local council of Rishon LeZion.

It’s official!

Even before Hebrew became the official language of Israel reviving the language and rearing future generations with the budding language was important to the founding community of Rishon Lezion. When Israel declared independence, Hebrew was declared one of the official languages of the new state.

Fun Fact

In 1921 during British rule, Hebrew was one of the official languages of the country.


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