Hebrew, a language known for over three millennia, is a member of the Semitic language family, and a sister language to Arabic and Aramaic. Throughout history, Hebrew has served as the liturgical and literary language of the Jewish people. The spoken language, which ceased to exist during the early first millennium, was revived as a modern, vibrant language in the late 19th century with the advance of Zionism, the Jewish national movement, and was declared an official language of the State of Israel in 1948. The language is now spoken by close to six million Jews in Israel and a similar number of people around the world.
Classical Hebrew is reflected in the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, and the rich responsa and exegetic literature (midrashim) of medieval times. Modern Hebrew writers like Nobel laureate S.Y. Agnon, Amos Oz, and Yehuda Amichai, are well known throughout the world.
The growth of Hebrew Studies at universities in the United States reflects the fact that Hebrew is the language of a major world civilization as well as an international language that serves as a crucial link between Jews around the world. In academia, Hebrew holds an important position as a fundamental component in every advanced program in Jewish Studies--one cannot imagine serious scholarship in that field without advanced knowledge of Hebrew. The growth of Hebrew schools and Jewish community centers has created a demand for Hebrew teachers, and the Hebrew program at UT has enough resources to train students who consider teaching Hebrew a possibility.
First and second year Hebrew courses are taught regularly every year, as are advanced language courses and courses in Hebrew literature and culture.