HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal
From the Desk of Arnee Winshall, RAVSAK Chair
שלום חברים, hope that everyone enjoyed Passover meals, gathered around dining room tables with family and friends, re-telling the story of the exodus and sharing personal stories, connecting the past to the present and creating new stories that can be told in the future. We are a people who have continually lived in the present and built our future drawing strength and wisdom from the past.
In this issue we focus on one of the key links in the chain that connects the past to the present and is an essential element for preserving the Jewish people well into the future: the Hebrew language, our שפת עם, our national language, and for some our שפת אם, mother tongue. RAVSAK’s mission is to capitalize the “J” in our schools, and there is no element more essential than the mastery of Hebrew for engaging deeply in Jewish study and exploring Jewish roots.
As Jewish educators and RAVSAK schools, we strive to provide our students, our staff and our families with the opportunity to develop and strengthen their Jewish identity and connection to Israel, to create their own stories as members of the Jewish people. We have a secret weapon, a national treasure, so to speak—the Hebrew language. Wayne L. Firestone, President of Hillel, wrote, “We need to recognize the Hebrew language as a valuable portal for self-exploration and Jewish identity building.”
In Indonesian they have an expression: Bahasa jiwa bangsa. Language is the soul of a nation.
This year has been designated the year of Hebrew, שנת השפה העברית. The Academy of the Hebrew Language writes,
The Israeli government has decided to honor the Hebrew language by issuing a stamp that highlights Hebrew’s uniqueness: its continued existence even after it ceased to be spoken, the treasures that were added to its vocabulary throughout the ages, and its modern revival as the everyday language of Israel.
The year of Hebrew is truly an opportunity to celebrate our beautiful language and to call attention to the importance of investing in elevating the study of Hebrew in the Diaspora. Please join RAVSAK in taking the lead to advocate for the investment in the development of the field of Hebrew educators. By raising the level of Hebrew education, we will provide our students with the opportunity not just to study Hebrew, but to experience the joy and pride that comes with truly acquiring Hebrew and making it their own.
Arnee Winshall is Chair of RAVSAK’s Board of Directors, and Founding Chair of JCDS, Boston's Jewish Community Day School. Arnee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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In a global and interconnected world, speaking more than one language is no longer a luxury but a necessity.......
What are the goals of Hebrew in day schools? Do we teach it primarily to access religious texts or to speak in Tel Aviv? What are we achieving today, and what can we realistically strive to achieve? Contributors believe in the capacity of day schools to teach Hebrew and present methods and tools for achieving high goals in Hebrew.
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