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Hebrew Summer Language Program

…When Alice woke up, she found herself in a strange laboratory.

Across the room sat a Nobel Prize Winner, whispering the answer to a question that nobody asked while drawing an imaginary ribosome in the air. Dancing around the room asymmetrically to the beat of a hip hop song and holding a model of a quasicrystal, Alice spotted another Nobel Prize Winner.  On the other side of the laboratory, chatting online about absolutely nothing, there stood the inventors of the VoIP technology.

Alice was puzzled.

Why were so many prominent scientists in the same room? And why were they all speaking Modern Hebrew?

Curious? Read the clues...


  • In 2009, Ada Yonath from Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome.

  • In 2011, Dan Shechtman from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of quasicrystals.  In a tribute to Shechtman, two Israeli hip hop musicians wrote a song that describes the story of Shechtman’s discovery, making fun of the disbelief with which it was initially met.  Search for “אגדת שכטמן” (the Shechtman Legend) on YouTube to listen to the song, or alternatively search for “דן שכטמן רוקד” (Dan Shechtman dancing) on Google to watch Shechtman dancing to the sound of this musical tribute.

  • The first company ever to develop a VoIP (Voice over IP) application was the Israeli high-tech company VocalTec.  Not a real surprise, given that in proportion to its population, Israel has the largest number of startup companies in the world.  Among the most famous Israeli high-tech companies one finds Iscar (acquired in 2006 by Warren Buffett for $4 billion), Teva (a leader in the field of generic prescription drugs), CheckPoint (a global pioneer of internet security), and of course Anobit, an innovative player in the field of flash memory technology. 

  • Want to learn some more?  Search the web for the CNBC interview with Dan Senor, the co-author of Start Up Nation, and find out how becoming familiar with Hebrew and Israeli High-Tech Culture can help you in your current and future career!

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As a participant in the Hebrew Summer Language Institute, you will become a competent member of a transcultural, translingual community, and will thus be able to reflect in Hebrew on the constant encounters between languages, cultures, religions, and social classes, as these take place in both Israel and the United States.  By the end of the program you will possess the tools needed to operate within this transnational sphere and communicate in Hebrew with confidence, sensitivity, accuracy, and agency.
Following the Rapid Language Acquisition model of the SLI, students in the Hebrew program cover the equivalent of four semesters of language instruction, receive 12 credits upon graduation, and fulfill the language requirement at the University of Virginia, and many other colleges and universities.

Pedagogy and Philosophy

The only prerequisites are motivation to learn Hebrew and an open mind.  No previous knowledge of Hebrew or its alphabet is assumed, and the same applies to all other forms of knowledge about Israel or the Middle East. A right-to-left language, Hebrew comes in many forms and shapes, and in our program you will find an opportunity to develop your own relationship to both the language and the cultures associated with it.

As a participant in the Hebrew Program, you will be given the tools to develop a long-standing relationship with Hebrew as well as the cultures of Israel and the Middle East.  We believe that the best way to prepare for an encounter with a foreign culture is through direct exposure to real world linguistic and cultural material. For this reason, we neither shelter our students, nor do we hide the troubles, complexity, or even occasional ugliness associated with the target language and culture.  Instead, we help our students feel at home in a pluralist, colorful foreign chaos, assist them in learning Hebrew from within, and discover with them ever more exciting ways of doing so.