Hebrew at the Center, Inc. (HATC) was established in 2007 with the mission to revolutionize the effectiveness of teaching and learning Hebrew in all educational settings. The initiative to establish a center to advance Hebrew teaching and learning was given its first real boost in 2002, when The Covenant Foundation and the Winshall family provided JCDS, Boston’s Jewish Community Day School with a grant to systematically pilot a proficiency and assessment-based approach to Hebrew teaching and learning. Inspired by the results and by additional work with educators from an expanding number of schools across the country, HATC began its formal work to develop an educational leadership team with the expertise to provide in-service professional development programs focused on Hebrew language educators in both formal and informal settings. Our goals are to professionalize the field, develop tools that enable educators to empower students, set goals, and assess programs, educate institutional leadership, and support Hebrew language advocacy. In the last few years, HATC has expanded its work into the informal Jewish education space with the development of a new approach to Hebrew engagement. Developed jointly with the Jewish Agency for Israel, this pedagogic approach, innovative materials, and effective training have brought Hebrew into more than three dozen camps, Israel experience programs for teens and young adults, and is now being rolled out to year-round settings. The outcome of this work aims to demonstrate what is possible, raise expectations, and to bring increased effectiveness, joy, and excitement to Hebrew teaching and learning.
Since HATC’s inception and through its influence, the field of Hebrew language education has experienced increased professionalization and the addition of new players, including MA and PhD degree granting programs at Middlebury College, development of Avant STAMP ™ online assessment tool, the launch of Hebrew Public, the Kayitz Kef day camp initiative, entrée of new curriculum initiatives, and the establishment of the Council for Hebrew Language and Culture in North America. HATC now works with the key players in the Hebrew language education field in leading Hitkdamut, the annual Hebrew educators conference, and collaborates with local federations and educational sector leaders in advancing the Hebrew agenda. In addition to these efforts, HATC is currently in active collaborations with Prizmah, TalentEducators, CASJE, Hebrew College, Jewish Interactive, UnitEd, and peer organizations through DEEP. HATC remains in dialogue with the major foundations supporting Jewish education in order to continue to guide further Hebrew engagement.