Hebrew at the Center Announces Selection of Chicago Jewish Day School as Model Demonstration School for מובילים בעברית National Hebrew Language Initiative
Initiative Builds Toward $1,000,000+ Investment in Hebrew
The Board of Directors at Hebrew at the Center (HATC), a leader in Hebrew language teacher professional development and advocacy announces that Chicago Jewish Day School (CJDS) has been selected into the Leading in Hebrew national initiative to become the second model school for Hebrew teaching and learning.
The Leading in Hebrew initiative, a highly selective three-year plus program, was designed by HATC to create model schools of Hebrew excellence in regions throughout the country. HATC expects to develop truly exemplary Hebrew programs, with cohorts of master teacher leaders, that become national demonstration schools. Coaching teams with expertise in school change, second language pedagogy, leadership development, teacher mentoring, curriculum building, integration of technology, differentiated instruction, and early childhood will work with CJDS over the course of more than three years.
The comprehensive professional learning plan for school faculty and leadership includes on-site and online workshops and seminars; coaching and mentoring from HATC staff, expert teachers, and other field leaders; and faculty participation in prominent professional development opportunities for day-school and language teachers. Throughout the initiative, students’ Hebrew knowledge and skills are measured using tools developed by HATC and Avant Assessment, a leading language proficiency assessment provider. This effort will be led on the ground by Judy Finkelstein-Taff, Head of School, Tamar Cytryn, Director of Jewish Studies and Campus Life, and Penina Berdugo, Director of Hebrew Curriculum, with the HATC leadership of Tal Gale, Chief Program Officer, and Liat Kadosh, Director of Embedded Expertise. Rosov Consulting, a leading firm engaged in program evaluation in the Jewish community, will lead the effort to document and assess this groundbreaking initiative.
“We could not be more pleased to see this bold initiative come to Chicago, building upon the strong engagement with Hebrew education that has always been a hallmark of our community,” said Lonnie Nasatir, President of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Chicago. “This is a terrific opportunity to leverage both the expertise of Hebrew at the Center and CJDS’s wonderful faculty, leadership and families, and advancing our shared belief in Hebrew’s power to deepen Jewish identity and connection.”
According to the CEO of HATC, Rabbi Andrew Ergas: “We were very impressed by the outstanding commitment of the Chicago community to Hebrew. This played a crucial part in the selection of CJDS as a Leading in Hebrew school. The initiative will build upon existing expertise and embed pedagogic know-how in Chicago, and eventually in communities across North America, with the goal of enhancing the delivery of Hebrew language education and the corresponding student outcomes in Hebrew proficiency. Ultimately, this expertise will raise the quality of Hebrew language learning such that Hebrew becomes an integral and elevated part of Jewish life in a community.”
Given the complexity of the undertaking, HATC employs a highly selective process, choosing a school based on strong school leadership with a demonstrated commitment to the pursuit of excellence in Hebrew programs, a culture and track record of investment in staff professional development, and an expressed desire and intention to contribute to the field of Hebrew teaching and learning. CJDS is the second school to be selected into this national program. The initiative launched in Washington, DC in 2019 with the Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School of the Nation’s Capital. “We are grateful to HATC for the pivotal role it plays in lifting the professionalization of Hebrew instruction in the day school world to the next level. Milton has benefitted from working with HATC for almost a decade to make the school a leader in Hebrew instruction in North America,” says Naomi Reem, outgoing Head of School at Milton.
Judy Finkelstein-Taff, Head of School of CJDS said: “We are honored and thrilled to be selected for the Leading in Hebrew initiative and look forward to participating in a program which is designed to benefit CJDS and the entire Chicago Jewish Community. Our CJDS Educational Leadership Team will work with the HATC professionals to enhance and develop our vision of the role of Hebrew in our program throughout the grades, and will engage in an in-depth audit of our school’s Hebrew teaching and learning.” “Given our teachers, students, and our community, we are poised to become a center for Hebrew learning in Chicago and nationally.” said Tamar Cytryn, Director of Judaic Studies and Campus Life at CJDS.
“The task of truly transforming Hebrew language education in North America is one that commands us to think big and implement bold new initiatives with lasting and sustainable impact,” said Arnee Winshall, HATC’s Board President. “HATC’s Leading in Hebrew initiative exemplifies our commitment to revitalizing the teaching and learning of Hebrew and to make it a priority in the diaspora,” she said.