Each year, during the first 10 days of June, a unique and highly appraised countrywide Israeli cultural event takes place known as “Hebrew Book Week”, or simply “Book Week”. Hebrew Book Week differs from book fairs in other countries, as Hebrew Book Week is a country-wide event, not limited to specific cities around Israel. Historically, it is significant because in its early days, it contributed to the advancement of what many consider a small miracle – the resurrection of the dead language of Hebrew to once again become a living, breathing language.
Hebrew Book Week originated in 1926, as “Hebrew Book Day”, . Hebrew Book Day began as an annual book fair in Tel Aviv. To attract the widest possible audience, it was held on one of the city’s most frequented streets–Rothschild Boulevard., The original purpose of the book fair was to increase awareness of and exposure to Hebrew language books. . Due to the recent arrival of new immigrants to Israel there was all the more motivation to hold the book fair. Aware of the financial challenges of recent immigrants, the sponsors of Book Week provided the newcomers who did not necessarily know Hebrew yet with a twenty five percent discount off of many of the available books at the fair. This discount attracted a large crowd to Hebrew Book Day, and fulfilled the fair’s objective to expose and increase awareness of Hebrew language books.
Until 1958, Hebrew Book Day was limited to the Tel Aviv area. In 1959, the Hebrew Book Day fair changed to “Hebrew Book Week” and was endorsed by the association of Hebrew language publishers in Israel. Instead of taking place just in Tel Aviv, Book Week expanded by opening Hebrew Book Week sites throughout the country. This Week was a great time not only to buy books, but also to learn about what new books were available, and to experience an exciting cultural event.
In recent years, Hebrew Book Week has evolved into a major event. It now includes events such as poetry readings, book signings by major authors, and special sections for kids and enthusiasts of specific fields. Book chains and publishing houses take part supporting the month of June as “Hebrew Book Month”.