At its core, #OnwardHebrew is a grassroots initiative that supports sound-to-print Hebrew learning in part-time synagogue settings. The rest, as we say, is commentary. It is not formal curriculum, nor a prescribed list of do's and don'ts, but an approach based on the research of how children learn languages sound-to-print.
#OnwardHebrew had its beginning about ten years ago when several education directors began chatting about their frustrations with Hebrew "reading" skills of children who completed sixth grade. Informally, the directors committed to piloting experiments that could change assumptions about Hebrew learning in part-time/synagogue settings. In the fall of 2017, they gathered in Cleveland to share successes, challenges and hypotheses for future efforts. From this beginning, #OnwardHebrew launched.
Five years later, what have we learned?
You don't have to go it alone!
#OnwardHebrew started with innovators who were willing to experiment and share their successes and challenges. Early adopters soon followed. In these initial stages of development, the initiative worked on growing its cache of "existence proofs," stories that answer the question, "does this really work?" Five years later, #OnwardHebrew has not only grown its base, but education directors and synagogues across North America happily share their own stories of success and satisfaction.
If #OnwardHebrew won't work for your educational program, that's fine, really. But if you are intrigued and find yourself questioning or struggling, don't give up too early! A change process takes time and benefits from outside support. How can we help?
Nachama Skolnik Moskowitz,
on behalf of the #OnwardHebrew Leadership Team
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