Many ethnic groups are living in Israel. Jewish is the largest one that accounts for the majority of Israel’s population. However, various other minority ethnic groups are also present in the country. Some of the significant ethnicities and cultural groups that exist in Israel, other than Jews, include Arabs, Bedouins, Circassians, Druze, Armenians, Assyrians, Bahá’ís, and more. You see Israel is a pretty diverse and complex nation that has a history of varied populations. However, these ethnic identities can be fluid and multifaceted and can change over time.

Speaking about the country, Israel is located in the Middle East. It is a small size area with a population of about 8.9 million people. Since people from different cultures immigrated to Israel and different ethnicities interacted with each other, it resulted in the emergence of different Israel languages. As per the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, 49% of the population speaks Hebrew, 15% Russian, 18% Arabic, 20% French, 2% English, and 1.6 % Spanish. The other languages that are spoken in Israel are 10%. At present English language is taught in schools so that Israelis can communicate with the global world easily. The Israel official language is Hebrew, for religious reasons of course.

Table of Content

  1. Israeli History And Effects On Language
  2. Important Languages of Israel
  3. Languages Spoken in Israel
    1. Hebrew
    2. Arabic
    3. Russian
    4. English
    5. German
  4. The Revival of the Hebrew Language
  5. Wrapping Up

Israeli History And Effects On Language

It is no surprise that Israel holds a unique status in international politics. It is surrounded by countries that are hostile toward its existence and vice versa. However, the ground realities show us that common citizens just want to get along, a majority of them. Both countries heavily influence each other’s cultures and this also has a ranging effect on their languages and dialects.

Many Jews have migrated to Israel and many muslims have moved to surrounding countries. This has affected dialect, and acceptance of different languages. The main Israel language are two, Hebrew and Arabic, and the main reason behind it are the holy scriptures. Israel and its surrounding areas are full of either Jews or Muslims. Jew scriptures are in Hebrew, while Muslim scriptures are in Arabic.

One reason why English and Russian is also commonly spoken as an Israel language, is also because of religious sentiments. Many Jews from Russia, the USA, and other parts of the world migrate to Israel in their old age. People with Jewish religious backgrounds also have ease of travel to Israel. Many move permanently bringing in loads of wealth and culture. This has been commonly happening for decades.

Important Languages of Israel

As per the 21st edition of Ethnologue, there are 34 languages spoken in Israel. Out of these languages, 15 languages are non-indigenous and 19 are indigenous. The official languages of Israel are Hebrew and Arabic. Both of these languages are spoken by the common population of Israel. Hebrew is taught by Arab teachers in school and the Arabic language is spoken by minorities of the region. English was once the official language of Israel. But with time, the English language lost its significance to some extent. At present English language is taught in schools and universities so that Israelis can communicate with the global world easily.

Languages Spoken in Israel

There are a plethora of languages that are spoken in Israel. Let’s have a look at the number of languages that are used in Israel.

1. Hebrew

Hebrew is the everyday speaking language of Israel. This language was revived after 150 years, and people considered it a miracle since then is the Israel official language. The revival of Hebrew was not easy and it faced opposition from other languages, mainly from Yiddish to become a pivotal language of the Zionist project. It is also considered the language of a religious sect called Judaism. Arab schools in Israel teach the Hebrew language to the children until they reach the third grade. Israeli children need to pass the Hebrew exam to get enrolled. The older version of Hebrew has taken many loan words from other languages like Arabic, Latin, Greek Persian, and many other languages like Akkadian and Canaanite languages.

The form of Hebrew that is used today is instigated as the biblical language and its scripts follow the old Hebrew written form. The phonation of Modern Hebrew is a revised form created on the Sephardic (Hispano-Portuguese) pronunciation. The modern version of Hebrew comprises many old Hebrew dialects that are influenced by many other languages like Arabic, Aramaic, German, and English together with Jewish and Slavic languages.

2. Arabic

Arabic is the second official Israel language. It is spoken by 20% of the total population of Israel which includes Arab citizens of Israel and Jewish people from the Arab world. There is an important dialect of the Arab language which is called Levantine Arabic and it is spoken by many Israeli Arabs. The Arabic dialect that is spoken in Israel is similar to the Bedouin Arabic dialect and Palestinian Arabic. In the Northern part of Israel, the Lebanese Arabic dialect is spoken by Druze and Arabs. The older generation of Jews known as Mizrahi Jews speaks Judeo-Arabic languages. In the 2000 era, no signboards, food labels, road signs, and government messages were seen in the Arabic language, but now the situation is different. Many people speak Hebrew and Arabic well in Israel.

3. Russian

Although Russian is not the official language of Israel. Due to the immigration of Russian Jews, it is spoken by 20% of Israelis. Russian is considered an important language in Israel, and a local TV station in Israel is working on the Russian Language.

4. English

English is one of the important languages of Israel since the dominance of the British people. Although English does not have official status in Israel, it still holds a significant position while dealing with foreign affairs relations. English used in Israel follows American spellings and grammar.

Most Israelis speak the English language because it is the second language used in schools. Only 2% of Israelis speak English as their first language. The English language was revived in 1960 in Israel when Israel developed its relationship with America. English is not used in Israeli politics, and many laws were translated into Hebrew.

5. German

Though not one of the primary languages of the country, German is spoken in Israel natively by almost 100,000 Israelis. The presence of this language is due to German-speaking Jews who migrated from Germany to Israel for a variety of reasons, especially after World War Two and the Holocaust. When these immigrants came, they brought their German language with them as well. Today, there are many communities in Israel that speak German as a heritage language and use it in social interactions, cultural events, and family settings.

The Revival of the Hebrew Language

Let’s talk about the revival of the Hebrew language. It used to be Judaism’s sacred language, but with time it became an official language of Israeli and is widely spoken in daily life. The arrival of Jews from different countries in Israel and their amalgamation with the Jewish community that was called Palestine in the 19th century stimulated the older generation of Arabic-speaking Jewish to speak Hebrew. The revival of the Hebrew language is a miracle of its kind that is not shown in the history of languages. It used to be a dead language but emerged as a live language with millions of native speakers.

Wrapping Up

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