Language educational policy in the service of group identity: the Habad case

Michal Tannenbaum, Hagit Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Attitudes towards language and language education policy (LEP) interact with groups’ identities, internal dynamics and intergroup relations. Combining quantitative and qualitative measures, we focused on the Habad community—a Jewish ultra-Orthodox (UO) minority in Israel—exploring its LEP and community attitudes toward languages meaningful to them—Hebrew, Loshen Koydesh, Yiddish and English. Our analysis revealed varying views concerning the main languages associated with their actual and symbolic functions and gender differences regarding ideal LEP and LEP implementation. English emerged as occupying a unique position in Habad, reflecting this group’s distinctiveness within the broader UO community and its greater openness. We found that language perceptions, curriculum, and ideology are closely intertwined—the state curriculum is implemented only partially, textbooks are mostly developed especially for Habad pupils, and community members and educators view the superiority of the community’s values over the state curriculum as almost axiomatic. Our findings may be extrapolated to other contexts wherein minority groups develop their LEPs and adjust the curriculum to strike a balance between integration and the wish to maintain a distinctive identity. Languages (and LEPs in particular) are a powerful prism for the investigation of these issues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-342
Number of pages24
JournalLanguage Policy
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


  • English
  • Identity
  • Israel
  • Language education policy
  • Minority
  • Ultra-Orthodox


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