Nine million people around the world now speak the Hebrew language, though for many of those living in Israel not well enough to manage their lives, according to data released by the Central Bureau for Statistics on Sunday.
The 2011 Social Survey on Difficulties with the Hebrew Language found that for many Israelis, their Hebrew was not at a high enough level to use government services or deal with doctors.
For more than 1.6 million Israelis in their 20s and older, Hebrew is not their mother tongue, and they do not speak it at a high level.
According to the survey, 29% of those who immigrated in the 1990s do not have a good enough command of the Hebrew language and as a result avoid using government services. This effectively means that about 210,000 people, most of them immigrants from the former Soviet Union, avoid government services due to language difficulties. In addition, 17 percent have difficulties when they need medical services.
The survey found that about half the general population of Israel believes that not knowing Hebrew well enough greatly reduces the likelihood of finding a job. For those who already have a job, 43% of Jews and 54% of Arabs believe that knowing Hebrew greatly increases the chances of promotion, while 38% of Jews and 30% of Arabs say it has some effect.
A majority of the population, 68%, believes that it is important or very important that schools in the Jewish sector teach Arabic as a required language. When separated by ethnicity, 29% of Jews and 65% of Arabs believe it is very important to teach Arabic.
Seventy percent of the population believes that it is important or very important that government offices offer forms in both Hebrew and Arabic. Separated by ethnicity, 25% of Jews and 83% of Arabs categorized this as very important.