Guide to the Records of National Center for the Hebrew Language (NCHL), undated, 1906, 1993-2004 (bulk 1995-2003)

Processed by Carmen Hendershott

American Jewish Historical Society

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 294-6160

Fax: (212) 294-6161



© 2018, American Jewish Historical Society, Boston, MA and New York, NY. All Rights Reserved.
Machine-readable finding aid created by Carmen Hendershott as MS Word document, October-November 2011. Finding aid was encoded by Marvin Rusinek on November 8, 2011. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: National Center for the Hebrew Language (NCHL)
Title: National Center for the Hebrew Language (NCHL), records
Dates:undated, 1906, 1993-2004 (bulk 1995-2003)
Abstract: Contains records on the formation, mission, vision, and activities of the National Center for the Hebrew Language, as reflected in organizational documents (including minutes), event programs and announcements, publications (including the NCHL newsletter, Ivrit Now), photographs, promotional literature (including press releases), media coverage, and the NCHL website.
Languages: The collection is in English and Hebrew.
Quantity: 1.75 linear feet (3 manuscript boxes, 1 half manuscript box)
Identification: I-526
Repository: American Jewish Historical Society
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Historical Note

National Center for the Hebrew Language (New York) (1993-to present)

The National Center for the Hebrew Language (NCHL), headquartered in New York City, was formed in November 1995 by the Joint Authority for Jewish/Zionist Education of the World Zionist Organization; NCHL files indicate that planning of the organization began in September, 1992. A chronology of steps toward its realization as an official organization, submitted by Carol Diament, Chair of the Hebrew Language Committee of the American Advisory Council to the Joint Authority for Jewish Zionist Education [JAJZE], summarizes the preliminary plans and activities undertaken to establish the NCHL from September 1992-July 1995.

A report from the NCHL executive director indicates that the purpose of NCHL is to promote "culture and education in the United States through the promotion and study of the Hebrew language." It continues,

The Hebrew language … is an indispensable element of Jewish culture, Jewish identity, Jewish history and Jewish community. Hebrew is at the root of the Jewish textual tradition, both literary and liturgical. As a living language, Hebrew remains an essential cornerstone of Jewish peoplehood, connecting Israeli and world Jewry.1

Or, as another undated document by Dina Chardin puts it: "English is the most powerful language in the world. But we need Hebrew to empower ourselves as Jews."2 The mission by which NCHL defines itself is fourfold: "to be an advocate for the Hebrew language; to serve as a Hebrew language resource center; to be a catalyst for networking among organizations and professionals in the field of Hebrew language and culture; and to produce public programs in Hebrew language and culture."3

On March 13, 1996, the National Center for the Hebrew Language was formally incorporated as a non-profit organization. In 1997, it began publication of its signature newsletter, Ivrit Now. In 1998, NCHL began a "Learn thru Lit" program with a pilot offering in March. NCHL went online with a website in December, 1997. In February, 1999, it published a Directory of Hebrew Classes, detailing over 150 places where instruction in the Hebrew language is offered in the United States, Canada and Israel. Starting in the 1990s, NCHL has also sponsored mini-intensive Hebrew-language study courses (Ulpans) at the General Assembly annual meetings of the United Jewish Communities and a Hanukka (as spelled by the NCHL) Festival of Hebrew Choral Groups in the Metlife Building in New York City. The Ulpans, the Hanukkah concerts, and the "Learn thru Lit" programs have all continued to the present, and are flourishing. As of 2001-2002, the NCHL website ( had been accessed by over two million people, and undated later literature indicates that hits on the website have doubled.

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Scope and Content Note

The records of the National Center for the Hebrew Language represent its work to promote the learning of Hebrew by adult Jews in the United States, especially in reading and speaking. Its structure, mission, and activities are documented in both early meeting notes and papers pertaining to the formation of NCHL (its prehistory) and, once it was formally set up, in various files of NCHL meeting minutes, reports, budget proposals, lists of goals for the future, and action plans which augment the meeting notes and minutes. Its efforts to network with other organizations are implicit in this material, rather than being a clearly-defined separate body of data. Its advocacy for learning Hebrew is reflected in paper copies of key website pages, and in NCHL press releases and general promotional literature. Its publications files and education activities files document NCHL efforts to provide resources for studying Hebrew. Its public program activities are represented by programs of the Ulpans, and announcements of the "Lit thru Lunch" events and of the Hanukkah concerts; there are also two files of photographs, which contain several group photos of what appear to be various Hebrew language classes. Reaction to the activities of the National Center for the Hebrew Language is reflected in the media coverage files.

Some folders contain material which is not evident from their labels. These include Folder 1, which has a signed letter from the novelist Herman Wouk; Folder 10, which contains NCHL's Documentation of Incorporation as a Non-Profit on May 13, 1996; Folder 27, which includes sheet music for various Hebrew songs, including Hatikvah); Folder 34, which holds extensive biographical information on the writer Abraham B. Yehoshua; Folder 37, which provides the NCHL Vision Statement, along with text on NCHL accomplishments as they are described on the organization's website (URL:; Folder 40, which has publication information in addition to a list of issues on the NCHL newsletter Ivrit Now, namely, that it ceased publication with the v. VII (2) Spring-Summer 2004 issue, and that its usual frequency was 3 times a year; and Folder 44, whose photographic material consists of slides and negatives.

Other notes pertaining to material in the folders with print material (Folders 1-41) include the following: The material is in English, unless otherwise noted. In the events folders for GA meetings (Folders 25-30), the organization meeting is the General Assembly ("GA") of the Council of Jewish Federations. In Folder 20, the book by Alvin Schiff was originally paired with one by the NCHL Executive Director, Joseph Lowin, entitled Hebrew Talk: 101 Hebrew Roots and the Stories They Tell (Oakland, CA: EKS Publishing Co., 2004). This latter title was removed from the NCHL archives and was added to the American Jewish Historical Society Library.

The types of material found in this collection include books, documents, minutes, newspaper clippings, photographs, programs, reports, and one serial, Ivrit Now.

The collection is in English and Hebrew.

The collection is arranged in two series.

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The collection is arranged into two series as follows:

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers by permission of the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society, except items that are restricted due to their fragility.

Use Restrictions

Information concerning the literary rights may be obtained from the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society. Users must apply in writing for permission to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection. For more information contact:
American Jewish Historical Society, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY, 10011

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date (if known); National Center for the Hebrew Language (NCHL), records; I-526; box number; folder number; American Jewish Historical Society, New York, NY, and Boston, MA.

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Acquisition Information

Gift of the National Center for the Hebrew Language, donated in February, 2005 by Executive Director Joseph Lowin.

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Access Points

Click on a subject to search that term in the Center's catalog. Return to the Top of Page

Container List

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

Click the box in the request column to open the form that allows you to request a box for onsite viewing in the reading room at the Center for Jewish History, New York, NY.


Series I: Organizational Records, undated, 1906, 1993-2004

English and Hebrew.
Boxes 1-3.
Scope and Content:

See collection Scope and Content Note.

Subseries A: Minutes, 1996, 1998-2001

Box 1, Folders 1-9.
Scope and Content:

The subseries contains the minutes of the NCHL.

11Academic and Professional Advisory CouncilMarch 31, 1998request_box
12Board of DirectorsOctober 9, 1996 request_box
13Board of DirectorsAugust 26, 1999request_box
14Board of DirectorsMay 17, 2000request_box
15Board of DirectorsJanuary 25, 2001; September 25, 2001request_box
16Board of Directors - Executive CommitteeDecember 3, 2001request_box
17Board of Directors - Strategic Planning CommitteeDecember 20, 2000request_box
18Hebrew Gatekeepers SubcommitteeFebruary 14, 2000; March 7, 2000; March 30, 2000; April 11, 2000request_box
19Hebrew Gatekeepers Subcommittee TaskforceFebruary 13, 2000request_box

Subseries B: Organizational Documents, 1993-2001

English and Hebrew.
Box 1, Folders 10-14.
Scope and Content:

The subseries consists of organizational documents of the NCHL and its predecessors from 1993 to 2001.

112Grant Proposal ["Birthright Hebrew Grant Proposal"]2002request_box
  (In Hebrew and English)   
113Reports (Executive Director)1998-1999request_box
114Reports (Gatekeepers Committee)2000-2001request_box

Subseries C: Educational Activities, undated, 1906, 1993, 1996-2002

English and Hebrew.
Box 1, Folder 15 -- Box 2, Folder 24.
Scope and Content:

The subseries contains books and instructional materials related to Hebrew language learning.

115Books and Instructional Materials - Commentaries on Torah2003request_box
  (In Hebrew)   
116Books and Instructional Materials - "Foreign Language Enrollments in United States Institutions of Higher Education, Fall 1995," by Richard Brod and Bettina Huber (In: ADFL [Association of Departments of Foreign Language] Bulletin v.28 (2): 55-61)Winter 1997request_box
117Books and Instructional Materials - Hebrew Grammar and Its Usage, v.2: Everything about Verb Conjugation, by H. A. Kaplancirca 1906request_box
  (In Hebrew)   
218Books and Instructional Materials - Hebrew Proficiency Guidelinesundatedrequest_box
  (In Hebrew and English)   
219Books and Instructional Materials - The Hillel Guide to Jewish Life on Campus1993request_box
220Books and Instructional Materials - The Mystique of Hebrew: An Ancient Language in the New World, by Alvin I. Schiff1996request_box
221NotebooksJune 21, 1999-September 5, 2002request_box
  (In Hebrew and English)   
222Books and Instructional Materials - Yom-Ha'astmaut [Independence Day] Seder1997request_box
  (In Hebrew and English)   
223Learn Thru LitFall 1998-Spring 1999request_box
224SeminarJuly 2001request_box
  (In Hebrew and English)   

Subseries D: Events, 1997-2002

English and Hebrew.
Box 2, Folders 25 -- Box 3, Folder 34.
Scope and Content:

This subseries consists of information on events that promote the learning of the Hebrew language.

225GA (Indianapolis, IN)request_box
226GA (Jerusalem, Israel)1998request_box
  (In Hebrew and English)   
227GA (Jerusalem, Israel)1998request_box
  (In Hebrew and English)   
328GA (Atlanta, GA)1999request_box
329GA (Chicago, IL)2000request_box
330GA (Philadelphia, PA)2002request_box
331Hanukka Song Program at Metlife (New York, NY)1999-2001request_box
332Lunch and Lit1998request_box
333Lunch and Lit1999request_box
334Lunch and Lit2002request_box
  (In Hebrew and English)   

Subseries E: Public Relations, undated, 1997-1999, 2001-2004

English and Hebrew.
Box 3, Folders 35-40.
Scope and Content:

The subseries consists of promotional literature and publications that promote the Hebrew language.

335Press Releases undated, 2001, 2003request_box
  (In Hebrew and English)   
336Promotional Literature 2002-2003request_box
  (In Hebrew and English)   
337Promotional Literaturecirca 2003request_box
338Promotional Literature - Website1998, 2001request_box
339Publications - Directory of Hebrew Classes, edited by Joseph Lowin1999request_box
340Publications - Ivrit Now [NCHL newsletter]Fall 1997 - Spring-Summer 2004request_box
  (In Hebrew and English)   

Subseries F: Media Coverage, 1997-1999, 2001

Box 3, Folder 41.
Scope and Content:

This subseries provides external news coverage of NCHL.

341Media Coverage1997-1999, 2001request_box

Subseries G: Lapel pins, undated

Box 3, Folder 42.
Scope and Content:

This subseries consists of blue and white lapel pins which symbolize NCHL.

342Lapel pinsundatedrequest_box
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Series II: Photographs, undated

Box 4, Folders 43-44.
Scope and Content:

The series consists of photographs, slides, and negatives depicting events and persons related to NCHL.

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