lrc wordmark


Esther Raizen

Associate ProfessorPh.D., University of Texas at Austin

Esther Raizen



Modern & classical Hebrew language, linguistics & literature; Hebrew as a foreign language; Jewish history & culture; Computer-assisted instruction & computational linguistics


MES 342 • Legends Of The Jews

40200 • Spring 2022
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM MEZ 1.118

Borrowing its title form Louis Ginzberg’s seminal work The Legends of the Jews (1909), the course delves into Jewish folk literature as it developed over time. Beginning with the traditional legends of the Talmud and Midrashim, we will expand the scope of the works considered to folk tales told and written throughout the ages in Jewish communities of the Middle East, the United States, Europe, and Israel. Considering the role of folktales in generating a sense of community and providing a communal tool for reflecting on the human condition and on Jewish history and fate, we will focus our discussion on four topics, often intertwined: The natural world (animals, plants, stewardship of the environment); natural and man-made calamities and those perceived as divine retribution; parenthood,  family relationships and gender roles; and othering as mechanism for identity building. In addition to early rabbinic, medieval, and pre-modern sources, we will explore the works of modern storytellers like S.Y. Agnon, Hayim Nahman Bialik, Isaac Bashevis Zinger, Cynthia Ozick, Haviva Pedaya, Elie Wiesel, Clara Sereni, Abba Kovner, and others. Individual and group projects will direct students to explore both primary texts and theoretical work by scholars like Raphael Patai, Jacob Neusner, Galit Hasan-Rokem, and others. At the end of the course students will be well-versed in the many facets of Jewish folktale tradition and capable of evaluating, from a point of knowledge, the role that this tradition has played in fostering a sense of continuity and common destiny over time.

MES 342 • Childrearing In Israel

40205 • Spring 2022
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM MEZ 1.118

Spanning the pre-state years through the late 1950s, this course explores the topic of childrearing in the Jewish Yishuv during the formative years of the State of Israel, and the ways in which it helped shape the norms of mainstream Israeli society.

We will open with an exploration of the education system for Jews and Palestinian Arabs in Palestine under the Ottoman rule, the British Mandate, and during the first decade after the establishment of the State of Israel. Turning to the education of kindergarteners and elementary-school children in the Jewish sector, we will continue with the following questions:

Who were the teachers, where and how were they trained, and what educational theories and principles guided them in their classroom work and organizational initiatives?

What role did teachers and school children play in the revival of Hebrew as a national language?

What did children read, and what was read to them? What songs did they sing? What Hebrew and translated literatures were they exposed to? What was the role of literature and youth magazines in inculcating the Zionist ethos in children?

What effect did the circumstances of growing up in urban centers and in the kibbutz movement have on leading figures in the Israeli political and cultural scene?

While considering these questions and others, we will also explore the historical and cultural aspects of four events with children at their core: The Hurum Air Disaster (1949); The Yemenite Children Affair (~1948-1954); The rescue and adoption of Sinaia Hamdan (1956); and The Yossele Schumacher Affair (1960).

HEB 130D • Hebrew Across Disciplines

41550 • Fall 2021

Students read and discuss Hebrew language materials related to the subject matter of another designated course.

HEB 381H • Intensv Grad Lang Instructn I

41565 • Fall 2021
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM MEZ 1.212
(also listed as HEB 601C)

This course provides an intensive introduction to Hebrew language and Israeli culture. The in-class portion of the course will emphasize active listening and speaking practice, with extensive use of print, video, and web-based media. The goal of the course is to bring students to a level of functional proficiency in speaking and reading in a short-term course that will prepare them for the Intermediate Hebrew course. Students successfully completing this course may continue to HEB 611C in the spring to fulfill their Foreign Language Requirement in one year. This course requires students to commit to daily engagement with their peers and with faculty who employ intensive methods of language instruction. Active participation in class sessions and considerable attention to the language outside of classroom will be required.

HEB 381J • Intnsv Grd Lang Instrctn II-Wb

41295 • Spring 2021
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM
Internet; Synchronous
(also listed as HEB 611C)

This course builds upon HEB 601C. It focuses on the acquisition of proficiency and communicative skills. The setting is intensive, requiring significant investment of time in preparation for class sessions. The course assumes an “inverted classroom” environment where classroom time is dedicated exclusively to practice and activation of skills. At the end of the course, all students are expected to reach the intermediate-mid level of proficiency, as defined by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). The ambitious among the students will reach the intermediate-high or advanced levels in speaking, reading, and listening comprehension. Much of the at-home preparation will be dedicated to reading and listening comprehension, which will be very different from what was expected in 601C. Typing in Hebrew will be required for some assignments. The acquisition of cultural literacy will be an integral part of the curriculum throughout the semester.

At the end of the course students should feel reasonably comfortable using Hebrew in everyday situations and in different environments. Such settings may include daily conversations, watching TV, reading newspapers, surfing the web, texting, chatting, writing letters and short compositions and more. At the end of the course, students’ level of Hebrew should be equivalent to or higher than the one reached in studying a semester or taking a summer course in Israel. Students who successfully complete this course will be ready for upper-division courses that are offered at The University of Texas in Austin.


HEB 381H • Intensv Grad Lang Instr I-Wb

40015 • Fall 2020
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM
Internet; Synchronous
(also listed as HEB 601C)

This course is the first semester of intensive Hebrew language instruction.


Raizen, Modern Hebrew for Beginners


To be provided by instructor.

HEB 381H • Intensive Hebrew I

41950 • Fall 2013
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM MEZ 1.208
(also listed as HEB 601C)

This course is the first semester of intensive Hebrew language instruction.


Raizen, Modern Hebrew for Beginners


To be provided by instructor.

HEB 130D • Hebrew Across Disciplines

41315 • Fall 2012
Meets M 2:00PM-3:00PM MEZ 1.104

Students read and discuss Hebrew language materials related to the subject matter of another designated course.

HEB 346 • Parents/Children In Hebrew Lit

41318 • Fall 2012
Meets W 3:00PM-6:00PM UTC 1.136

This course surveys the notion of parents/children relationships as it is reflected in Hebrew literature from Biblical times to modern days. Topics like responsibilities and expectations, love and betrayal, and the roles of different family members in child rearing and in the support of the elderly will be discussed in conjunction with the assumption that the family has served as the cornerstone of Hebrew culture, and that the complexity of issues involved in family relationships mirrors the complexity that defines the individual and collective struggles with the confines of the Jewish faith and conflicts that have characterized Jewish nationalism at various points in time.

The course is taught in Hebrew, and all reading materials are in Hebrew.


Hebrew Bible (Genesis, Samuel I II, Kings I II, Job, Ecclesiastes, Proverbs)

Texts in prose and poetry available on the course Blackboard site

Grading Policy

Class attendance and participation 20%

Weekly journals 30%

Final Paper (~10 pages, in Hebrew, typed) 50%

ISL 373 • Isrl/Palestine: Parallel Lives

41495 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM PAR 301
GC (also listed as J S 363, MEL 321, MES 342)

Palestinian and Israeli societies have lived side by side for generations, developing their cultural traits in parallel and often within a framework marked by animosity and mutual rejection.  What is the role of popular culture in shaping the political and social consciousness of these societies? Can we find in the respective popular cultures the marks of interaction and mutual influence in addition to the obvious signs of conflict? The course will explore a variety of themes considered central to both societies, focusing on their expression in popular culture.  Students who complete the course successfully will be able to articulate the fundamental values of these societies and draw lines of similarity and difference between them as they reflect on the history of the region and its future.  The themes covered will include, among others, child rearing, rites of passage, romance, dress codes, cuisine, nature conservation, commemoration practices and the power of language.  Each theme will be observed in both societies, with Dr. Mohammad driving the Palestinian perspective and Dr. Raizen driving the Israeli one.  The course will culminate in group projects that will draw on the perspectives of both societies.

The course will be taught in English, and does not assume familiarity with a regional language.  Students will be taught 150 or so words and phrases in Arabic and Hebrew in the course of the semester, and will be introduced to a number of regional proverbs in their original languages.


In addition to newspaper articles from Israel and Palestine and other media resources, we will read segments from the following books:

Rebecca L. Stein and Ted Swedenburg, eds.  Palestine, Israel, and the Politics of Popular Culture.  Duke University Press, 2005.

Motti Regev and Edwin Seroussi .  Popular Music and National Culture in Israel.  University of California Press, 2004.Alexandra Nocke.  The Place of the Mediterranean in Modern Israeli Identity.  Middle Eastern Studies Volume 47, Issue 1, 2011.

Grading Policy

Attendance and participation: 30%Three essays:   45%Final project: 25%

HEB 130D • Hebrew Across Disciplines

41370 • Spring 2012
Meets W 2:00PM-3:00PM MEZ 1.104

Students read and discuss Hebrew language materials related to the subject matter of another designated course.

HEB 321 • Hebrew Grammar

41280 • Fall 2011
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM BEN 1.108
(also listed as HEB 382C)

The course explores phonology, morphology, and syntax of Hebrew, with emphasis on functional Hebrew grammar. For the drills, various texts are used, ranging from the Bible to modern newspaper articles and literary works. The part on Hebrew phonology consists of a detailed survey of the consonants and vowels, followed by a general study of vocalization rules, aimed at training the students in vocalizing and improving their sense of proper pronunciation and recognition of phonological variants. The larger part of the course is devoted to the study of Hebrew morphology. After learning noun patterns and the inflection of prepositions, a detailed study of the verb system trains the students in identifying verb forms as well as conjugating the various types of roots. 



To be provided by instructor. 



To be provided by instructor. 

HEB 611C • Intensive Hebrew II

41337 • Fall 2010
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM GAR 3.116

Course Description

The course, which builds upon HEB 601C, emphasizes composition, comprehension and conversation in Modern Hebrew, and provides a segue to upper-division Hebrew courses such as Hebrew Grammar, Advanced Conversation and Composition, and Introduction to Hebrew Literature. Oral discourse is maintained at maximal level, and small group/individual instruction sessions supplement the regular class routine. Audio-visual materials are frequently used. Students write short papers, present topics to the class and lead class discussions. Active participation in class discussions is a decisive element in students' participation grade. Not open to native speakers of Hebrew.

Grading Policy

Participation 15%; Quizzes 30%; Homework 20% Presentations 5%; Midtem exam 10%; Final exam 20% May vary with instructor.


Information on texts will be provided by the instructor.

HEB 346 • Hebrew Via Popular Culture

41892 • Spring 2010
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM MEZ 1.206

see attached

HEB 346 • Parents/Children In Heb Lit-W

37650 • Spring 2004
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM CAL 21

The goal of this course is to equip the intermediate student of Biblical Hebrew to become a more independent and proficient reader of the biblical text. Students will read, listen to, discuss, and write about the Hebrew Bible in its original language. Class time will be spent activating Hebrew vocabulary and grammar by reading and discussing biblical narrative prose and poetic texts. Students will learn and practice how to use the major lexicons and reference grammars of Biblical Hebrew. Preparation for class will include reading, listening, and homework exercises.

Curriculum Vitae

Profile Pages

External Links

  •   Map
  • Linguistics Research Center

    University of Texas at Austin
    PCL 5.556
    Mailcode S5490
    Austin, Texas 78712