השתמשו בעזרים ויזואליים כדי לקדם הבנה ולמידה בשיעור עברית

הקפידו להשתמש בעזרים ויזואליים בשיעורטבלה, תרשים, גרף, תמונה, סרטון, קריקטורה, פוסטר, מצגת, וכיוב‘. עזרים אלו ישמשו לא רק לגיוון בהוראה לטובת תלמידים.ות עם צרכי למידה שונים, אלא גם יתמכו בזכירת אוצר מילים, העלאת מוטבציה ומעורבות בלמידה, הפשטת מושגים מורכבים ועיבודם, וחשיפה לתרבות היעד אצל כלל התלמידים.ות. לשיתוף התלמידים.ות בתהליך הלמידה, בקשו מהם.ן להכין/למצוא עזרים ויזואליים לשיעור, אם מתאים. 

לאוסף דוגמות של עזרים ויזואליים מאת אוניברסיטת פיטסבורג לחצו כאן. 

לרעיונות ושימושים בכיתה קראו בבלוג של fluentu כאן. 

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In Memphis, Tennessee, Israeli Music Soothes Bornblum’s Soul

Music quite naturally stands at the core of learning at the Jewish day school in the heart of Memphis, Tennessee. After all, the city of Memphis is anchored by “Graceland,” the legendary home of Elvis Presley, of blessed memory, arguably one of the greatest American songwriters, singers, and performers of all time. The Bornblum Jewish Community Day School is nourished by both Israel’s and Tennessee’s deep wells of lyrical and liturgical inspiration.  

Since Israel was brutally attacked by Hamas on October 7th, many new Israeli songs of inspiration, determination, mourning, and hope have been written and recorded. As fast as Israeli radio stations get new songs out to the public, Bornblum’s Hebrew faculty members integrate the new music into the teaching of Hebrew, particularly in the Middle School.  Member School Highlight sat down with Michal Almalem, Bornblum’s Judaic Studies Principal and the Hebrew teachers, Rinat Kremer, Sapir Pinto, and Maya Sharabi, to learn how Israeli music is utilized to build Hebrew language and Israeli cultural proficiency, as well as strengthen Jewish identity. MSH wanted to know more about how learning emerging Israeli music over the past 6 months has benefited the teaching of Hebrew language and touched Bornblum’s students, their parents, the wider Memphis community, and even the Israeli community of Memphis’ sister city, Shoham. 

Whereas instinct guides many good Hebrew teachers to believe that learning the Hebrew words and the beautiful melodies of Israeli music will bring students closer to Israel, and that learning some of the vocabulary will bring them even closer, the Hebrew teachers at Bornblum were able to add grammatical constructs, sentence composition, and perfecting multiple drafts for deeper student learning. As first-year Members of Hebrew at the Center, they requested of their coach, Nili Pinhasi, to help the teachers connect the teaching of Israeli songs, in Hebrew, to ACTFL’s standards for second language acquisition. Once these techniques were applied to the first song, the teachers became increasingly adept at teaching Hebrew language and Israeli culture through music. 

In middle school, Rinat, Sapir, and Michal first play the music, then pull out vocabulary words that are already familiar, then add some new Hebrew vocabulary. Students then orally express and write in simple Hebrew their understanding of the meaning of the song, all while listening to the song again and again. Then the teachers introduce and teach one or two new grammatical structures that appear in the song. The next step is for the students to translate the song from its original Hebrew to English. At this point, students go back to their first Hebrew draft of the meaning of the school and improve upon it, writing a brief description of the song in English, to share with non-Hebrew speaking audiences. 

Emergent Israeli music has been incorporated into daily prayer and into community-wide Kabbalot Shabbat at Bornblum, attended by parents and grandparents. Before a song is sung at Kabbalat Shabbat, one or more of the middle school children make a short presentation, in English, about the origins and meaning of the song. The songs taught this year include: 

  • Yeish Lochamim (יש לוחמים) 
  • Im Machar Ani Meit (אם מחר אני מת) 
  • Giborai Al – (גיבורי על) by HaTikva 6, full of Hebrew vocabulary about different professions that the students already knew. 
  • Hai – the original version by Ofra Hazzah, compared and contrasted with the remix by Noa Kirel. 
  • LaTzeit MeiDika’on (לצאת מדיקאון) 

After one Kabbalat Shabbat, the song LaTzeit MeiDika’on (לצאת מדיקאון) organically became something of a schoolwide anthem, together with the video clips of soldiers coming back to their families after long stints in Gaza. The students were then challenged: the first student to memorize the entire first verse would get to sing it the following week as a solo. By the following week, the entire school had learned the chorus and one student sang the first verse as a solo. Today, every student at Bornblum can sing the entire first verse. In March, when visitors came to Memphis from their twin city of Shoham, they were invited to hear the Bornblum students sing this song and were overcome with emotion to hear these American children singing this song. 

At another Kabbalat Shabbat assembly, there was a display of ceramic hearts, created by the students, engraved with the names of each of the hostages, with a red balloon attached to each heart. When over 100 hostages returned home, each ceramic heart was given to the freed captive, creating a powerful and meaningful bond. The distribution of the hearts to returning hostages were coordinated through Bornblum’s “sister school” in Shoham. 

The war has tightened ties between Soham’s and Bornblum’s middle school students, who have been paired up as WhatsApp buddies. To practice correct writing skills, the Bornblum students write in Hebrew and the Shoham students write back in English. They also make voice recordings to send back and forth, recording, blushing, erasing, and recording again, until their messages meet their own expectations of what is acceptable to send. When the Bornblum 8th graders travel to Israel in May, they will spend 2 full days with their friends in Shoham. 

Maya Sharabi is the only member of the Hebrew department who does not teach in the middle school. As an early learning specialist, she wants her 1st and 2nd grade students to experience the emotions of the war through music without scaring them. She returned to a classic Israeli childrens’ song, “Eretz Yisrael Sheli.” While teaching the vocabulary, grammatical structures, and music of this Hebrew song, she focused on the educational messages, including the need to rebuild, repave, and replant what was destroyed by Hamas in Israel, and that our brothers and sisters in Israel do these things with love and filled with hope for the future. 

Much of what Bornblum’s Hebrew teachers undertook would have happened whether they were Hebrew at the Center members or not. Their faculty is dedicated and strong, their relationship with the city of Shoham is well-established, and music is deep in the souls of every resident of Elvis’ hometown, Memphis, Tennessee. However, learning and incorporating the ACTFL scale and mindfully teaching Hebrew through authentic Israeli cultural materials has given the teachers a professional framework upon which to turn this terrible moment in Israeli history into specific growth opportunities in Hebrew language acquisition. 

Hebrew is Magic: A Slave to Our Past

Dear friends,

Pesach is upon us, and as you may know, it’s the holiday of fours: four names, four cups of wine, four children, four questions.

In that same spirit, we’re going to examine four words from the Haggadah and discover how they make our lives more meaningful.

 

Jewish holidays and biblical language are notorious for using words that didn’t make it into modern Hebrew, but the other day I overheard a familiar word that did.

Bedi’avad (בדיעבד) is the everyday Hebrew word for “hindsight”.

Take a close look at the word, particularly the last part. Do you see another word you recognize, straight out of the Haggadah?

Indeed, those final three letters, ayin-bet-dalet, form the word  עבד (eved), which means slave.

It’s also the shoresh (root) of numerous words related to the idea of work, everything from a 9-5 job to worshiping God.

What does this have to do with “hindsight”?

Although it can be painful to admit, Hebrew knows that as Jews, we are slaves to our past simply by existing and surviving one enemy after another. Coping with an irreversible, and often tragic history has a way of enslaving us to it.

But even so, reflecting in retrospect enables us to prevent undesirable parts of history from repeating themselves. In this way, looking in hindsight and confronting our history is also the very thing that helps us free ourselves from it.

 

Of course many of our  traditions are worth repeating. The fourth question at the Seder asks why we recline at the table instead of sitting regularly.

At least, that’s how the question is typically translated.

But as it turns out, mesubin (מסובין) is Hebrew for “sitting around the table”

based on the shoresh samech-bet-bet (סבב).

At first glance, this three-letter root might not look so familiar, but it appears in all things that turn or turn around, including a toy from another favorite holiday, the sevivon (dreidel).

In other words, what the child is actually asking in question number four is, “On all other nights we sit at the table wherever and however we want, but on this night we sit around the table, facing one another.”

This word makes another appearance on Passover when we sing the song “Betzet Yisrael.”

Ha-Yarden tisov l’achor

The song describes how the Jordan River turned backward as it paved a path for us to cross into Israel!

The takeaway?

Sometimes making positive changes in life demands that we turn our back on something else in order to pave the path forward.

 

As we move forward with the Seder, we reach the “sandwich stage” korech (כורך). Similarly, the shoresh kaf-resh-chaf (כרכ)

gets packed into multiple Hebrew words.

This same root appears in kricha (כריכה)

which means “book cover” and can also refer to the act of binding pages or ideas together.

And then there’s karuch (כרוך)

which means “to be contingent upon something else.” So, this year when you reach korech, I invite you to ask yourselves What is real freedom contingent on?

 

And for the cherry on top, we have the tastiest dessert of all: Matzah! Except that at this stage of the Seder, we call it tzafun (צפון)

where we hide a piece and make our children look for it, aka, the Greek afikomen.

It’s worth asking, Why don’t we just call this “dessert” like the Greeks do?

To answer that, we’ll decode the root – in this case tzadi-peh-nun (צפנ)

In the nature of the root, there is so much meaning to unpack – if you look for it. One pairing of the word is kod tzofen (קוד צופן), which literally means encrypted code.

On a more amorphic level, the word matzpun (מצפון)

is a variation of a code that’s hard to ignore – our conscience. It’s no wonder that the Hebrew word for compass is matzpen (מצפן).

How sweet of a metaphor! Hebrew is telling us that some codes are hard to decipher, but we can find the answers within (or under the sofa).

Whether a moral compass or a literal one, they can both point us north or tzafon (צפון)

and provide us guidance like the North Star.

 

Who Knows 133?

With 133 hostages still in Gaza, celebrating a holiday that’s symbolic of freedom is paradoxical at best. So to help you bear this burden and remain mindful of why this year is different from all other years, Benji and I created a Passover supplement that integrates what the Jewish people have been enduring for the past six months with traditions that originated thousands of years ago. It includes new takes on the Four Questions, suggestions for ways to keep the hostages in mind at your Seder table, and some relevant Hebrew is Magic. We invite you to incorporate it at the relevant stages of the Seder.

Download Passover Supplement

 

Sending wishes for a Seder filled with hidden meanings and a chag sameach,

Joel


Joel Chasnoff is a stand-up comedian, podcast host, and co-author of Israel 201, winner of the 2023 National Jewish Book Award. You can find out more about his comedy, books, and upcoming tour at www.joelchasnoff.com, and sign up for his weekly newsletter, Hebrew Is Magic, to learn more about the hidden life lessons in Hebrew words.  

השתמשו במילים דומות (קוגניטים, מילים שאולות) כדי לקדם הבנה והבעה במיוחד אצל לומדים.ות מתחילים.ות

עבו את אוצר המילים ביחידת הלימוד/שיעור על ידי הוספת מילים דומות, כגון קוגניטים ומילים שאולות (מילים אשר נשמעות דומה ובעלות משמעות דומה בעברית ובשפת האם) אשר מתאימות לנושא ולמטרות היחידה. המילים הללו יגדילו בצורה משמעותית את אוצר המילים של הלומדים.ות (במיוחד מתחילים.ות), יסייעו בהבנת טקסטים, ויאפשרו הפקה מגוונת ורחבה יותר. לקישורים לרשימות מילים כאלו לדוגמה, קראו במסמך הנמצא במאגר המשאבים באתר שלנו. 

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Hebrew is Magic: Take a Deep Breath

Dear friends,

As many of you know, I moved to Israel to enlist in the IDF when I was a whopping 24 years old. That means I was older than my comrades, my commanders, and my officers!

Plenty of people, including my parents and then-girlfriend Dorit, tried to talk me out of it.

I had my own doubts, too:

Was my Hebrew strong enough?

Were my glutes strong enough?

And, of course, there was the biggest question of all: Was I willing to die?

Some context: This was the late ‘90s, when just about all combat soldiers would eventually do a tour in Lebanon as part of Israel’s war of attrition with Hezbollah. Did I know for sure that I wanted to be part of that?

No, I did not. But what I did know was that if I didn’t join up, I’d regret it forever (however long “forever” might be).

You see, I realized that serving in the IDF wasn’t just another item on my bucket list. It was a sense of fulfillment I needed to claim in order to feel like life had a bigger purpose.

It was, in other words, something I aspired to.

 

The Hebrew word for “to aspire” is lish’of (לשאוף)

And while I may not have realized this then, I now know that Hebrew sees us during the challenges we face –  and helps us see our way through them. Here’s how:

It turns out that lish’of is a homonym that also means “to inhale.”

Hebrew is handing us a package deal: Aspiring to the best version of who we are necessarily means overcoming difficulty and self-doubt.

In this sense, lish’of is more than just a word, it’s an instruction manual. Hebrew knows that short, shallow breaths are the diagnostic for stressful situations. Lish’of literally spells out how to cope with the anxiety we feel when embarking on a new challenge: deep inhales. This small act equips our brains with enough oxygen to tackle what’s ahead.

Science backs this up. But, once again, Hebrew knew it first.

And I have a feeling that with lish’of, Hebrew is telling us something else, too: In the same way that breathing is involuntary, so too is our need to aspire and reach for more. The day we stop growing is the day we stop living.


Joel Chasnoff is a stand-up comedian, podcast host, and co-author of Israel 201, winner of the 2023 National Jewish Book Award. You can find out more about his comedy, books, and upcoming tour at www.joelchasnoff.com, and sign up for his weekly newsletter, Hebrew Is Magic, to learn more about the hidden life lessons in Hebrew words.  

עזרו לתלמידים.ות לאמץ אסטרטגיות למידה יעילות על ידי התנסות ורפלקציה

רפלקציה על השימוש באסטרטגיות למידה ועל התרומה שלהן מקדמת מוטיבציה של תלמידים.ות ותומכת באיכות הלמידה שלהם.ן. בקשו מהתלמידים.ות שלכם.ן לספר או לכתוב על הערך של השימוש באסטרטגיה מסוימת עבורם.ן. עודדו את הרפלקציה בעזרת שאלות כמו: מה היתה האסטרטגיה – מה עשית? מה/מי עזרו לך? איך תשתמש.י באסטרטגיה בפעם הבאה?

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The State of Hebrew Education: Insights from Toronto and Beyond

The latest State of the Field, contains a study conducted by UJA Federation of Greater Toronto in collaboration with Rosov Consulting which presents attitudes of various stakeholders to Hebrew education in the Jewish day school. Although the study was conducted in Toronto, we believe it is reflective of other communities around North America.

The study reports on the attitude of parents, students and teachers toward teaching and learning Hebrew, including Contemporary (Modern) and Classical Hebrew in Modern, Traditional and Hybrid schools. It showed that while parents value Hebrew, parents of children in Modern Schools valued Hebrew the least, while those in Hybrid or Traditional Schools, valued different Hebrews, with those in Traditional Schools opting for Classical Hebrew and those in Hybrid schools preferring Modern Hebrew.

The study revealed that parents and students value Hebrew for different reasons, with parents valuing more the symbolic reasons while students were more interested in the practical application of the language. However, what the study surfaced is that the enjoyment from learning Hebrew poses a challenge. While those students in Modern schools disliked all Hebrew learning, with Classical being more disliked than Contemporary Hebrew, students in Hybrid schools enjoyed Contemporary Hebrew very little but had a negative enjoyment from Classical Hebrew. Only students in Traditional Schools enjoyed Hebrew both Contemporary (very little) and Classical (significantly).

Interestingly, parents’ satisfaction with Hebrew education is less than 50% with either Contemporary or Classical Hebrew in Modern Schools, between 50 and 60 percent in Hybrid schools, and only 28% satisfaction with Contemporary Hebrew and 63% satisfaction with Classical Hebrew in Traditional Schools.

How The Leffell School’s Sarit Nevo Ended up Presenting at the Global Language Conference

Assuring students’ achievement in communicative Hebrew language skills is a high priority at The Leffell School. The Hebrew leaders of each division are deeply committed to the professional growth of their teachers and the senior leadership is equally committed to the professional growth of the Hebrew leaders.  

Dr. Michael Kay, Leffell’s Head of School, shared an email invitation to his Hebrew leaders with an interesting challenge: to submit a proposal to be a presenter at a Global Language Conference, to teachers of many different world languages. Sarit Nevo, Leffell’s new Middle School Ivrit Department Chair, accepted the challenge.  

Hebrew at the Center’s “Member School Highlight” sat down for an interview with Sarit to learn what led her to make 2 presentations at the New York State Association of Independent Schools’ Global Language Conference, and how this experience evolved to launch the upcoming in-person Shiur Ivrit Conference, to be held on Sunday, April 7, from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM EDT, at the Leffell School in Hartsdate, New York: 

MSH: How did you find this opportunity to present at a World Language Conference?  

Sarit: This is my 6th year teaching Hebrew in a Jewish day school and my first year as a department chair. Dr. Kay received an email from New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) with a call for proposals for their World Language Conference. Our school is a member of NYSAIS, which sponsors outstanding professional conferences throughout the year. Occasionally, there are opportunities for teachers at member schools to lead sessions at these conferences. Thinking that Hebrew teachers should be a part of this large community of language teachers, I decided to apply. My decision to participate wasn’t solely driven by personal ambition; rather, it was rooted in a desire to enrich the broader language teaching community. By offering insights into Hebrew pedagogy employed at The Leffell School, I aimed to elevate the status of Hebrew language instruction and foster cross-cultural understanding and appreciation. It was an opportunity to bridge cultures and celebrate diversity. Then the war broke out, I wasn’t sure this was the right time for Hebrew to be front and center, but decided to move forward. 

MSH: What was your presentation about? 

Sarit: I wanted to enrich the global language community and bring Hebrew to the forefront of our field. Recognizing the immense and multifaceted value of Hebrew educators contributing to the broader discourse on language education, I wrote two proposals. To my great surprise, both were accepted! I presented two units that I am very proud of and that are innovative and unique. The first was: The Power of Songs in Second Language Acquisition. The second was: Extensive Authentic Reading in Second Language Acquisition. 

These workshops were designed to bring both theory and practice, providing practical tools and strategies that attending teachers could immediately implement in their World Language classrooms, regardless of what language they teach. I developed detailed teacher guides, in English, to accompany the workshops, ensuring that the knowledge shared could be effectively applied in diverse educational and world language settings.  

MSH: What make you feel that you were ready to send a proposal for a conference that was outside of the Jewish day school space?  

Sarit: Wow! When Dr. Kay, our Head of School, shared that Hebrew has historically not been highly represented at this conference, I felt compelled to change that narrative. I recognized the importance of highlighting Hebrew education within a broader educational context. 

Although presenting at this conference was outside of my comfort zone – requiring me to present in English – I was driven by the opportunity to both learn from and contribute to other language educators. I firmly believe that while I have much to learn from teachers of other languages and cultures, I also have valuable insights to share. I approached the task with unwavering determination, dedicating my weekends over the next two months to develop comprehensive workshops. My husband and daughters were very generous to give me the time and space to prepare. 

MSH: Why do you think it is important for Hebrew language educators to present at such a conference?  

Sarit: I think it is important for Hebrew language teachers to present in a global language conference for a few reasons: 

  1. Representation: By presenting at conferences, Hebrew language educators contribute to the visibility and recognition of Hebrew as a language of study. They showcase the richness and diversity of Hebrew language instruction. As we are mostly teaching in Jewish schools and communities, we don’t have many opportunities to be a part of that larger community of language teachers. The NYSAIS Conference presented the opportunity for Hebrew at be represented. 
  1. Networking Opportunities: Conferences bring together a diverse community of language educators from various backgrounds and contexts. Participating in such events allows Hebrew language educators to network with peers, exchange ideas, and establish valuable connections. These networking opportunities can lead to collaborations, partnerships, and resource-sharing, which ultimately benefit both educators and their students. 
  1. Professional Development: Conferences provide a platform for educators to stay updated with the latest research, methodologies, and trends in language education. By presenting at conferences, Hebrew language educators can share their experiences, innovative teaching methods, and insights gained from their classrooms.  

MSH: What were your challenges? How did you overcome them? Who helped you brainstorm and prepare? 

Sarit: This was my first time presenting in a conference in English. This being my main challenge I knew I had to be ready and thoroughly prepared. Since all my materials were in Hebrew, I dedicated long weekends to crafting my presentations and materials in English and planning engaging workshops that teachers of other languages would find enjoyable, inspiring, and helpful. I am extremely grateful to Dr. Esty Gross, Chief of Staff and Director of Education at Hebrew at the Center, for her guidance throughout this journey. 

MSH: What are the implications for you as a Hebrew leader? 

Sarit: So many! Presenting at a World Language conference can be a source of inspiration and motivation for Hebrew educators. Sharing successful teaching strategies, student achievements, or innovative projects can energize educators and reaffirm their commitment to excellence in Hebrew language education.  

Professional Growth: Engaging in conference presentations and participation offers a platform for personal and professional growth and provides opportunities to refine presentation skills, enhance public speaking abilities, and receive constructive feedback 

Leadership Development: Presenting at a language conference showcases leadership within the Hebrew education community. It demonstrates initiative, expertise, and a commitment to advancing the field. By sharing innovative teaching methods, successful strategies, and unique insights, one can inspire and influence peers, thereby assuming a leadership role in shaping the direction of Hebrew language instruction. 

Networking and Collaboration: Participation in World Language conferences facilitates networking and collaboration opportunities. Building connections with like-minded individuals enables the exchange of ideas, resources, and best practices. Collaborative endeavors may emerge, leading to joint curriculum development initiatives.  

Through this conference I met Joshua Cabral from the https://wlclassroom.com/ . I was extremely honored that the conference keynote participated in my workshop. Joshua invited me to participate in his successful podcast about Authentic Reading in the Target Language. 

Advocacy and Visibility: Presenting at a world language conference serves as a form of advocacy for Hebrew language education. It raises awareness of the importance, relevance, and value of Hebrew as a language of study. By showcasing innovative approaches, successful outcomes, and student achievements, one can promote the growth and sustainability of Hebrew language programs within educational institutions and broader communities. 

Affirmation: Hearing positive feedback and engaging in discussions with colleagues can reignite passion for teaching and invigorate the teaching and learning process at your school. 

MSH: What are the implications of your presentations for Hebrew teaching and learning at The Leffell School? 

Sarit: Presenting at a conference elevates the profile of Hebrew teaching within the school community. It validates the importance of Hebrew language instruction and highlights the expertise of educators involved in teaching Hebrew. This recognition can foster a sense of pride among students, parents, and colleagues, reinforcing the value of Hebrew language learning.  

MSH: How has this experience changed your thoughts about Hebrew teaching and learning across the field?  

Sarit: After attending and presenting at the NYSAIS World Language Conference, noticing how much we educators can learn from each other, I’m initiating a Hebrew teachers’ conference Shiur Ivrit – the collaborative conference. I am calling all Hebrew teachers and leaders in the New York Metropolitan Area to present and/or participate in our conference that will take place, in person, on Sunday, April 7th, from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM at The Leffell School Upper School Campus. This is a unique opportunity to learn from each other and build connections. 

I hope that my experience as a presenter at the NYSAIS World Language Conference will inspire others to attend and present at World Language conferences outside of our Hebrew language community. Just as NYSAIS hosts world language conferences, so do Associations of Independent Schools in other states and geographic regions. Each state also hosts similar conferences for World Language teachers in public schools. 

I also hope that Leffell’s Shiur Ivrit Collaborative Conference, co-sponsored by Hebrew at the Center, will encourage other Hebrew leaders in other locations to host their own regional conferences. Engaging in conference presentations encourages educators to stay updated with the latest trends, research, and best practices in Hebrew language instruction.  It provides an opportunity for teachers to refine their pedagogical skills, explore innovative teaching methods, and incorporate new approaches into their classrooms. Ultimately, the main beneficiaries are our Hebrew language students. 

MSH: Todah Rabbah, Sarit. Looking forward to seeing you at Shiur Ivrit on April 7th. 

Amitei Ivrit Fellows Bring Hebrew to Life Around the Country

Over the past few months, Hebrew at the Center staff ventured out into the field to visit with our Amitei Ivrit Year-Round fellows in their settings, and found them doing some extraordinary things!

Each site visit revealed a new exciting way our fellows were expanding the learning of Hebrew in their settings. At The Temple, in Atlanta, Rebecca Good guided fifth graders to create an exhibit in her program’s Jewish Museum to teach Hebrew to K-3rd grade students using Hebrew at the Center’s “Table Top” Hebrew learning games. At Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue, in California, Michelle Geft welcomes all her students each week with a kinus opening session in which she prompts them to respond in Hebrew using various signs to let her know how they are feeling, what the date is, and answer other queries. In Manhattan, at Park Avenue Synagogue, teachers used Hebrew at the Center’s Hebrew word card decks to have first grade students identify Hebrew letters on the cards that are also in their Hebrew names. In Atlanta, at Shearith Israel, Sharon Graetz’ students opted into a scavenger hunt elective in which they had to identify in Hebrew the various rooms and objects that make their school and sacred space special. 

In each of these ways, and many others by the other fellows in the Amitei Ivrit year-round cohort, this group of educational leaders is deepening and expanding the role and presence of where Hebrew lives in our students’ lives. They are determined to bring Hebrew as a language, as part of Jewish culture, as central to religious behavior out of the academic oriented classroom and into the experiential and organic environments of informal education. In doing so, these students will see Hebrew as more than just a language to learn for a B’nei Mitzvah, or to use singularly on a trip to Israel. They will know and feel how Hebrew connects them to Jews in their own city and around their world. They will understand how Hebrew offers access to both exciting contemporary culture and the wisdom of Jewish literature that is thousands of years old. 

In these months, we witnessed the returns of the efforts to invest in training and coaching educators and providing them the resources and support to give them the space to dream, experiment and learn how Hebrew can elevate their mission and vision for Jewish education. 

Interested in bringing Amitei Ivrit fellows to your school? Click here to learn more about the program.

Hebrew is Magic: Under Contract

As a self-employed stand-up comedian and author, I spend a lot of time with contracts – writing them, reviewing them, and once in a while, arguing over the finer points within.

I know I’m not alone.

It used to be we dealt with contracts once or twice a year – when buying a house, renting an apartment, buying or leasing a car.

But in our modern world, contracts are a daily fixture. Whether it’s downloading an app, signing up for an email account, or ordering a pizza online, we’re first presented with a War-and-Peace-length contract stating the terms and conditions, which we must the acknowledge that we’ve read, understood, and agreed to. (If not, no email address. Or pizza.)

Is it simply the nature of contracts that they’re like this?

And why do we have contracts at all?

Believe it or not, Hebrew has the answer…

 

CHEST SELF FORWARD

The Hebrew word for contract is chozeh (חוזה)

If you’re familiar with Hebrew, look closely: Do you see another word hidden inside it? (Hint: it’s a body part…)

Indeed, embedded in chozeh are chet-zayin-heh (ח–ז–ה)

which gives us chazeh (חזה)

a three-letter word that means “chest.”

Now, why might this be?

As I see it, Hebrew is trying to tell us something about the nature of contracts. And it has to do with two unique aspects of the chest.

First, when facing another person, the chest is the only part of the body that you can’t conceal. You can cross your leg behind you, hide your arm behind your back, and you can even swivel your neck and turn away your head…but so long as you’re in front of that other person, your chest remains fixed in place. Move it, and you’re no longer facing them .

Second, the chest is the only part of the body that you can’t move in isolation. Fingers can be curled, faces scrunched up, but your chest? Move it, and other parts start moving too. Your chest is you: what you see is what you get.

According to Hebrew, our contracts should be the same way: forward-facing, declarative, and encompassing the entirety of the deal.

Nothing hidden, no fine print.

Once again, Hebrew proves itself an instruction manual for how to live an ethical life.


Joel Chasnoff is a stand-up comedian, podcast host, and co-author of Israel 201, winner of the 2023 National Jewish Book Award. You can find out more about his comedy, books, and upcoming tour at www.joelchasnoff.com, and sign up for his weekly newsletter, Hebrew Is Magic, to learn more about the hidden life lessons in Hebrew words.