Ben Yehudah School, Khoms, Libya

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With the primary intention of restoring the Hebrew language and identity of Jews throughout the regions of Russia, Palestine, and Jerusalem, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda traveled distances throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa to give Jews in schools the right to obtain a state of their own national fulfillment, with an education system shaped around their own history and language. Drawing close inspiration from the revivals of Greeks, the heirs of Classical Athens, Ben-Yehuda felt that his people, the Jews, should be afforded the opportunity to have those deep influences revealed.

Of all the steps Ben-Yehuda took to revive Hebrew, the use of “Hebrew in the School” was clearly the most important, and Ben-Yehuda realized this. In his first articles, written while abroad, he had dwelt on the way the Russian language had become rooted among the youth in Russia, even among those for whom it was not their mother tongue, through being introduced as the language of instruction in schools. On the same principle, Ben-Yehuda preached that rabbis and teachers should use Hebrew as the language of instruction in the Jewish schools in Palestine, and for all subjects, both religious and secular. Ben-Yehuda understood that the revival could succeed especially, and perhaps only, if the younger generation would begin to speak Hebrew freely. Therefore, when Nissim Bechar, the principal of the Torah and Avodah School of the Alliance Israélite Universelle School in Jerusalem proposed to Ben-Yehuda in 1882 that he teach in his school, Ben-Yehuda seized the chance. Bechar understood the necessity of using Hebrew in the school, because, for the first time, children from several different Jewish communities would be studying in the same classroom, and they had no other common language which could be used [1].


This was a place where Jewish students would go to learn Hebrew and other Jewish subjects. The teachers came from Israel and they helped organize the aliyah of the Khoms community after 1948. 






1931 The Ben Yehuda Association is established. Teaching Hebrew is a major activity. Many Libyan Jews speak fluent Hebrew before settling in Israel.

There are 12,000 Jews in Tripoli, 30% of the entire population.

1938 Italian anti-Jewish racial laws introduced. Jews expelled from certain jobs and professions and from schools and higher education. ‘Jew’ is stamped in all official documents. A Jewish school is created by the community.

The Ben Yehuda Society for the promotion of spoken Hebrew, headed by Jacob Fargion and Sion Saul Adadi, was established in Tripoli, Libya, in 1931 by young Zionist men eager to read Hebrew periodicals from Palestine in order to deepen their knowledge of events there and in the Zionist world. Self-taught in modern Hebrew, they set out to make Hebrew the spoken language of the whole community. They started Hebrew courses for adults followed by afternoon classes for children in the Ha-Tiqva school; in both cases, classes were gender-based. The number of children increased from


Khoms, Libya

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