You know how it is ... something in your professional life keeps you up at night, every night. For many Jewish educators working in congregations or other part-time settings, sleepless nights revolve around the challenges of Hebrew education. Traditionally, students spend 3-5 years learning to decode the letters and practicing prayers. Children start out excited, but often lose interest as the task drags on year-after-year.
Large-scale change in part-time Hebrew learning began five years ago when Hebrew Through Movement (HTM), with its playful introduction of Hebrew language, made its way onto the national scene from Cleveland, OH. As the approach gained acceptance, educators and parents began noticing that student reactions to Hebrew education were becoming increasingly positive, thus beginning a shift in the cultural norm of part-time Jewish education.
Encouraged by these changes, Nachama Skolnik Moskowitz, Director of Curriculum Resources for the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland (JECC), began wondering aloud with colleagues whether five years of prayer learning was really what pre B’nai Mitzvah students needed since the schedule and structure of "Hebrew School" heavily impacted the entire educational program. Nachama asked how we might radically shift decades’ old assumptions about learning Hebrew in part-time settings.
With the understanding that language learning is most naturally built from sound (what one hears) to print (what one reads), a number of education directors across the country began to experiment with new approaches to Hebrew learning.
In the fall of 2017, the JECC invited to Cleveland a handful of nationally respected early experimenters/adopters of the new approach to Hebrew learning. After a day of sharing and reflection, we created #OnwardHebrew and began forging a path forward: deepening our own understanding of Hebrew learning; considering ways to accelerate change across North America; and, encouraging more educational programs to adopt at least three of the four approaches that form the foundation of sound-to-print learning.
And so, we invite YOU to join the conversation!
[With names from left to right, in the picture above]
Nachama Skolnik Moskowitz, Jewish Education Center of Cleveland, OH
Rabbi Nicki Greninger, JQuest, Temple Isaiah, Lafayette, CA
Brad Cohen, Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, MD
Rabbi Stacy Rigler, JQuest, Keneseth Israel, Philadelphia, PA
Kathy Schwartz, Congregation Har Hashem, Boulder, CO
Rabbi Stacy Schlein, The Temple - Tifereth Israel, Cleveland, OH
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