alef bet quest
This is the second in a series of articles exploring the diversity of Hebrew learning strategies at congregational schools.
At Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, educators follow two guiding principles when it comes to Hebrew.
“We do Hebrew for the sake of loving it and using it,” says Brad Cohen, the synagogue’s director of education. “I listen to my students. When they’re curious about a topic, they learn it faster.”
What this looks like in practice is a school of 250 students that aims to instill a comfort with Hebrew, whether for prayer participation and knowledge or for an overall sense of identity. The school infuses Hebrew throughout all the grades, beginning with auditory learning of blessings and prayers in classrooms.
Third graders use Hebrew Through Movement and small group t’filah, which provides them an opportunity to connect with prayers in an intimate setting. Fourth and fifth graders learn to lead Havdal
Imagine it's August: A family calls a school asking for help. Their son has no prior Hebrew education and yet is determined to have a bar mitzvah - in just a few months.
That's the call Rabbi Rena Rifkin, director of the religious school at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in New York City, received last summer. The boy wouldn't be starting school until September, and Rifkin knew there was a time crunch, so she offered the family another option to jumpstart his learning - the Online Learning Center.
The OLC is tool that provides students access to digital materials to extend learning and offers opportunities for extra practice. Rifkin set up the student in the OLC as his own class, so he could use