Over nine million people speak the revived Hebrew language, and for most of them, it’s their native tongue!

Each year Israel celebrates Hebrew Language Day on the birthday of Eliezer Ben Yehuda, the father of Modern Hebrew. The Hebrew date is the 21st day of Tevet, which this year fell on January 8.

Born in Lithuania on January 7, 1858, Ben Yehuda arrived in Ottoman Palestine in 1881, where he believed the Jewish People must return to their ancient homeland and again speak their own language.

As explained by Jewish Virtual Library, “As long as Ben-Yehuda spoke Hebrew at home or with his friends, he was able to use the language more or less as he wished. But if he wanted the entire society to use Hebrew, then the words would have to be precise and accurate, according to strict philological rules. Therefore, Ben-Yehuda became a scientific lexicographer.”

His determination and hard work culminated in the 17-volume A Complete Dictionary of Ancient and Modern Hebrew.

Today over nine million people speak Hebrew, and for most of them, it’s their native tongue.

Watch as people strolling along Jerusalem’s Ben Yehuda Street answer the question: What’s your favorite Hebrew word?

And can you guess after whom the street is named?

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