Hebrew at Home!

March 2021   Keeping Connected

Hello School Community Friends,

Let’s talk about … Hebrew!  (No!  Don’t stop reading.  It is going to be okay.)

Under the circumstances, the Hebrew program at Congregation Shalom is finding great success this year. The K-2 class is exposed to the Hebrew letters on Sunday mornings and they look forward to singing the AlephBet song while identifying some of the Hebrew letters. Kitah Aleph (3rd grade) and Kitah Bet (4th grade) meet on Sunday mornings following their religious school class. Kitah Aleph is moving right along and the students in the class are learning letters and sounds and words quickly. They are all strong in their Hebrew development and continue to amaze us each week. Kitah Bet has begun the mitkadem program as a whole class, with the goal to start to work a little more independently and progress individually. They are an enthusiastic group and are displaying lots of Hebrew knowledge. Kitah Gimel and Kitah Dalet meet on Wednesday afternoons, always online, and work in small groups with a teacher. The students listen to each other read, try to chant together, explore the meaning and significance of the prayers and blessings and work to learn the vocabulary words. This part of this year has taught us all a lot about how each student learns Hebrew and there are components of the program this year that we will carry into next year, when we are hopefully back in the building. The Gimel and Dalet students work really hard each week, chanting and reading with their peers and teacher. I am so proud of all the Hebrew students and teachers.

In addition to their weekly studies with their teachers and classmates, each student in our Hebrew School is paired up with a madrich or madricha, a young adult that works with the students during the course of the week. We are so fortunate to have nine dedicated madrichim who meet weekly with students individually, communicate with me several times a week, and know exactly what to work on with each student. This also has turned out to be a very valuable piece of the program this year. Our students seem to really embrace their time working with the young adults and our madrichim work tirelessly each week, figuring out exactly what each individual student needs during the one on one time together. I feel very fortunate to be able to consider the madrichim as a part of the teaching staff this year.

So, why am I telling you all about Hebrew.  (Stay. Don’t stop reading.)

The teachers and madrichim at Congregation Shalom can continue to do the wonderful work that they are doing to help your students progress in Hebrew, but it isn’t enough. The students need to take some time each week to practice at home. Exposure to the language and practice are keys to success. Practice leads to “getting better,” finding comfort, confidence and familiarity with the language. Exposure allows the students to feel a connection and to make connections. Last year I remember working with a student on some vocabulary words. One of the Hebrew words was “ner” meaning light. The student kept struggling with remembering the meaning. Eventually, the student connected it to “ner tamid.” The student’s face lit up (no pun, intended) and it was a true Ah-ha moment. This year I asked the student the meaning of ner, and the immediate response was “light!”

So, how do you help your students practice Hebrew at home?  (This article is almost done.  Don’t leave yet!)

Simply listen to your student read Hebrew. YOU DON’T NEED TO KNOW HEBREW TO LISTEN TO THEM READ. It is okay if they make mistakes. It is okay if you don’t even know if they are making mistakes or not. The more the students engage with Hebrew, the more comfortable and confident they will become with the language. The teachers and madrichim will help with the mistakes and the teaching part. You can help with the listening and encouraging part. Ten minutes a day a few days a week is all that is needed. Have your student read to you in the kitchen while you are cooking. Listen to your student read while driving in the car. Sit down together for ten minutes to engage in the Hebrew with each other. Flip over vocabulary cards together. Attend Shabbat Services. Hearing the prayers in action will help with familiarity and comfort.Lack of practice does lead to a loss of knowledge and a slipping backwards. Please find time each week to listen to your student read Hebrew. Help them practice identifying Hebrew letters and the sounds they make. If you would like a set of Aleph-bet flashcards to use at home, please let me know. If you want a link to Hebrew flashcards online, let me know. Believe it or not, there are ways to make Hebrew practice fun and not a chore for you or your student. I am happy to help you and your family figure out the best way to support your Hebrew learning student at home.

I will look forward to continuing this conversation about Hebrew with you in the future.



Schedule for March (subject to change)


Wednesday, March 3

  • Wednesday Hebrew School
  • Gimel, Dalet, Hey and Chai School

Sunday, March 7

  • Sunday Religious School and Sunday Hebrew School
  • Virtual Tenement Museum tour – 6th grade
  • Mock Wedding – 7th grade

Wednesday, March 10

  • Wednesday Hebrew School
  • Gimel, Dalet, Hey (No Chai)

Sunday, March 14

  • Sunday Religious School and Sunday Hebrew School (Daylight Savings Time!)

Wednesday, March 17

  • Wednesday Hebrew School
  • Gimel, Dalet, Hey and Chai School 3rd session begins

Friday, March 19

  • 5th Family Shabbat at 7pm.  All are welcomed and encouraged to join us at services on Zoom.

Sunday, March 21

  • Sunday Religious School and Sunday Hebrew School
  • 6th grade Family Ed

Wednesday, March 24

  • Wednesday Hebrew School
  • Gimel, Dalet, Hey and Chai School, Post Confirmation

Sunday, March 28

  • NO SCHOOL – Happy Passover!

Wednesday, March 31

  • Wednesday Hebrew School
  • Gimel, Dalet, Hey and Chai School