Noam Chomsky was born on February 7, 1928, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States to the family of Zeev "William" Chomsky and Elsie Simonofsky, Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants born in modern-day Ukraine and Belarus respectively. His mother, Elsie, was a teacher and was active in the radical politics of the 1930s. His father, William was a respected professor of Hebrew at Gratz College, an institution for teacher’s training. Chomsky felt the weight of America's Great Depression. He was raised with a younger brother, David, and although his own family was middle class, he witnessed injustices all around him. One of his earliest memories consisted of watching security officers beat women strikers outside a textile plant.
Chomsky's parents had an enormous impact on their son. He was introduced to linguistics by his father. From an early age Noam and his brother were immersed in the revival of the Jewish culture and the Hebrew language. Young Noam studied Hebrew literature with his father. He spent time in Hebrew school and later became a Hebrew teacher himself.
By the age of 13, Chomsky was traveling from Philadelphia to New York, spending much of his time listening to the disparate perspectives hashed out among adults over cigarettes and magazines at his uncle’s newsstand at the back of a 72nd Street subway exit. Chomsky greatly admired his uncle, a man of little formal education, but someone who was wildly smart about the world around him. Chomsky’s current political views spring from this type of lived-experience stance, positing that all people can understand politics and economics and make their own decisions, and that authority ought to be tested before being deemed legitimate and worthy of power.