A war broke out over a hundred years ago during the final months of 1913 that would ultimately determine the future of the Jewish state. Students, teachers, parents, and people in the streets of Israel joined forces to fight for the soul and survival of a Jewish, Hebrew-speaking nation. For without Hebrew, the Jewish nation could not survive.
That Hebrew would become the language of the emerging Jewish state was not at all obvious, as there were many contenders.
The popular and tempting European “culture française” was the first to enthrall Israel’s returning Jews. When the first school of agriculture Mikve Yisrael was established over 150 years ago, about which David Ben Gurion said “Without Mikve Yisrael we would not have a country,” its founders determined it would be “French only.” A public outcry including strikes eventually forced Mikveh and other French-only institutions in Israel to teach Hebrew. Without local folks fighting for their biblical tongue, French could have easily become the “lingua franca” of Israel.