Strengthen Your Hebrew Program by Building in Goals
Why do you want your learners to engage with Hebrew?
It's a question that far too few educators and communities have grappled with deeply and can answer readily.
Yes, it takes some work to articulate that mission. Yet, the payoff can be huge.
Strong programs have a clear rationale, a reason for doing what you're doing. This leads to greater clarity in the goals you set. Goals provide the filter needed to structure learning experiences, create effective lessons, choose appropriate materials, and develop benchmarks.
In a recent report by CASJE called Let's Stop Calling it "Hebrew School": Rationales, Goals, and Practices of Hebrew Education in Part-time Jewish Schools, authors Nicki Greninger, Netta Avineri, and Sarah Bunin Benor explore the notion of Hebrew goals. Among all the groups of stakeholders they studied, affective goals for Hebrew rated highest, which means associating Hebrew with Jewishness, feeling a sense of accomplishment regarding their Hebrew knowledge, feeling personally connected to Hebrew, and associating Hebrew with fun.
Building goals into your Hebrew program can help turn longing for that affective engagement into the actions that bring the satisfaction of achievement.
How do we make that happen?
It would be easy if the only choice of Hebrew approach was one-size-fits-all. But there’s no right answer. Gone are the days when Hebrew learning looked the same everywhere. Jewish education has progressed and evolved and provided many pathways to engaging children of all abilities and interests. There are so many interesting and different ways students learn Hebrew these days. What’s right for one school and its students is all wrong for another.
Engage in meaningful conversation around Hebrew goals with all the relevant stakeholders. Are families primarily interested in bnei mitzvah prep? Is Hebrew mainly for liturgical competence? How important is conversational Hebrew language skills? What's the role of Hebrew learning in Jewish life?
Use your Hebrew goals as the foundation upon which to build and strengthen your program. Behrman House has developed some planning guides to help you match goals with materials. We've organized materials into four general Hebrew program goals:
- Prayer skills and meaning
- Hebrew as a living language
- Hebrew in Jewish life (ritual life plus connections to Israel)
- Hebrew in lifelong learning
Find the Consider Your Goals guide here.
Match specific materials to your goals using the Hebrew Curriculum Planning guide here.
Both of these planning guides are also available on the Behrman House website, under the Plan section. You can also find them in our catalog, in both the print version and online version.
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