Eta Beta Rho, a Hebrew honors society, held its first induction Wednesday night in an intimate setting – the home of Yaron Peleg, a GW professor who advises the society.
Eta Beta Rho is a small honors society rooted in the study of the Hebrew language. Though Hebrew is closely affiliated with the Jewish faith, Eta Beta Rho President Harry Baumgarten said the society welcomes Hebrew speakers of all faiths.
“I think the unique thing about the Hebrew language is its affiliation with a specific culture – it’s such a source of identity for a lot of people,” he said. “To me, Hebrew is at the core of my identity. Hebrew plays a key part in my daily life.”
The winner of the organization’s award for love and devotion to the Hebrew language last year was a Muslim student from Jordan – 2007 graduate Rana Nosair.
Recognizing the importance of the induction ceremony, Baumgarten also stressed that his society’s induction ceremony represents the society’s attempt to establish itself on campus officially.
“It’s important to note that this isn’t just an induction,” Baumgarten said. “It’s trying to invigorate the institution.”
In addition to the organization’s hope to initiate more new members, the organization hopes to secure more financial support from the University this year.
“Last year we had no funds or recognition – last year’s seniors didn’t receive recognition from the University,” Baumgarten said. “That’s what we’re looking to change.”
Baumgarten also emphasized the close partnership between Eta Beta Rho and the Hebrew language department at GW.
“It’s interesting to note that we’re not just seeing the resurgence of the society. We’re seeing (a resurgence of interest in the language in) the Hebrew Department at the University itself,” said Baumgarten. “There are more and more people taking advanced Hebrew classes, many of whom have lived in Israel.”
The GW chapter of the honors society was established in 2005 by Tamir Eldad, with fewer than 10 charter members. There are currently 11 members in the organization and 16 pending applicants.