Most Jewish day schools view the learning and teaching of Hebrew language as a vehicle to shape and reinforce their students’ Jewish identity. The outcome desired by heads of school, parents and students is for graduates to have internalized and “owned” the Hebrew language in a way that will allow them to feel comfortable using Hebrew in the context of modern Israel and be equally able to interpret at least the Siddur and the Tanakh confidently.
Hebrew is the key to connecting students with Jewish texts, prayer, people, and of course, Israel. The challenges to making these key connections, however, are considerable. Many cite lack of interest in second-language acquisition in the U.S., lack of clarity for program goals, insufficient pipeline and training for Hebrew instructors, and limited interest in and relevance for students and their families. New methods, curricula, and resources aim to overcome these hurdles and “restore the crown of Hebrew to its ancient glory.”
Photo credit: The Jean and Samuel Frankel Jewish Academy of Metropolitan Detroit, W. Bloomfield, MI