CESJDS holds first ever Kabbalat Shabbat in Hebrew


Photo by Director of Marketing and Communications Suzie Thompson

Junior Talia Sporkin performs a song in Hebrew to the high school.

Ari Kittrie, Reporter

CESJDS’ all-in-Hebrew Kabbalat Shabbat was a new linguistic twist for a regularly English-spoken event.

Hebrew Kab Shab, as it is colloquially known, was the brainchild of Upper School Hebrew Language Chair Shelli Putterman-Kenett. When Putterman-Kennett learned that 65 JDS students had received the Global Seal of Biliteracy from the state of Maryland, a certification that high school students can read, write and speak in two different languages, she saw it as “a huge achievement for our school.” 

Putterman-Kennett thought “it would be beautiful to highlight Hebrew at JDS and the importance of Hebrew in JDS” in a larger setting. She went to Director of Arts Education Dr. Solomon, High School Principal Dr. Lisa Vardi and Middle School Principal Dr. Eliana Lipsky detailing her plans to dedicate a Kabbalat Shabbat to the celebration of the Hebrew language.

“I think it speaks volumes to our core values that if you look in any class or anywhere in this school, you will see that we have the value of Ahavat Israel that includes the voice of the Jewish people and the importance of Hebrew for each student here and for us as a community,” Putterman-Kenett said.

Even the D’var Torah was given by sophomores Reut Skromne and Adin Halbfinger in Hebrew. Additionally, Rabbi Malkus spoke in Hebrew about the achievements of the students who received the Global Seal of Biliteracy.

A goal for Putterman-Kenett in enabling the JDS student body to experience this twist on the traditional Kab Shab was “bringing it [Hebrew] to the center, talking about it, presenting about it, bringing it into the awareness of everyone here that it is something that is a core and one of the pillars of this school which is Hebrew and we need to celebrate it.”

Putterman-Kenett expands by saying that “Hebrew is not only inside our classroom but that it is actually taking place all around us all the time.”

Freshman Elisheva Babitz, who did the presentation on the teenage activist Ofek Rishon, hopes that students will be able to “learn that Hebrew can connect you to different people around the world.”The program Rishon spearheads, Sayeret Herem, which translates to Organization against Bullying, works to fight against bullying in Israel and all around the world.

Solomon, who coordinates  Kabbalat Shabbat, hopes that this first-ever Hebrew Kabbalat Shabbat is “filled with enjoyment and thought and spirit and joy like each Kab Shab.”

Whether Hebrew Kab Shab is a one-time event or a tradition that continues on a regular basis remains to be seen.

Solomon said, “We will take things week by week and I know that celebrating all the good things that are happening at JDS is something that is exciting to highlight.”