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New Research in Hebrew Language and Culture
2014-01-17

The newly formed Department of Hebrew at the university is hosting an international conference from 27 to 29 January 2014. The conference has speakers from Israel, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia, as well as South Africa, Zambia, Congo and Nigeria. The goal of the conference is to highlight recent research in Hebrew language and culture by bringing international scholarship to the university and by highlighting the importance of the African context as a conceptual space for research on Hebrew. The rich cultural heritage of Hebrew finds particular resonance in Africa through the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament).

Some highlights from the conference include new research on the use of the ancient Hebrew script by Jews in the Persian and Roman periods as a means to maintain their religious and ethnic identity in times of distress, linguistic research on metaphors in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), Jews and non-Jews in the Hebrew and Yiddish writings of the South African author Morris Hoffman, the development of a rabbinic prayer for rain in the land of Israel and in South Africa, pedagogical advances in teaching Hebrew in Africa, and translation of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) as a means of reshaping VaTsonga cultural identity. 

The study of ancient and modern Hebrew language and culture provides important insights into the complex cultural situation in modern Africa, generally, and South Africa, in particular. The use of language by minority religious and ethnic groups can provide a powerful force for identity in turbulent political realities. Religious texts can be re-contextualised to provide guidance in new cultural contexts or translated to enhance and empower local societies. 

Venue: CR Swart Auditorium 

For more information, contact Prof Cynthia Miller-Naudé, Head of the Department of Hebrew at millercl@ufs.ac.za
 
 

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