Shulamith Katznelson helped make Israel a home for a wider range of people as both a pioneer of Hebrew-immersion programs and an advocate for Israeli-Palestinian dialogue. Raised in Jerusalem in a politically active and pluralistic family, Katznelson volunteered with both the Haganah and Irgun underground military organizations before Israel declared statehood. She studied at David Yellin Teachers’ College and Hebrew University’s School of Social Work as well as at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and began working at the Me’ir Shefeyah Youth Village with refugees from Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria. In 1951 she founded Ulpan Akiva, one of Israel’s first intensive Hebrew language programs, which she ran until 1996. Beginning in 1967, Ulpan Akiva also began teaching Israelis to speak Arabic, with special programs in Arabic language and culture for teachers and military officers. The school has also advised groups hoping to revive Basque, Gaelic, and other endangered or dormant languages, and in 1990 co-sponsored an international conference on language revival. Katznelson also served as a founding member of the Israel Interfaith Committee and spoke at the 1992 International Conference on Conflict Resolution in Derry, Ireland. Among her many honors, she was awarded the Israel Prize for Education in 1986.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Shulamith Katznelson." (Viewed on February 24, 2018) <https://jwa.org/people/katznelson-shulamith>.