Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School
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The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

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Education miscalculation

Education+miscalculation

When I went to Israel with my family for the first time in the summer of 2018, I was captivated by the country. Not only did I love walking around and immersing myself in the culture of Israel, but it was a great opportunity for me to work on my Hebrew, speaking to native Israelis on the streets and in shops. I was very proud of the fact that I could converse with Israelis as a rising fifth grader, due to Hebrew I learned in school.

As a Jewish school, CESJDS strives to deliver the best Jewish education possible. This includes education on Israel: its culture, history and language. Furthermore, Hebrew is the one school subject mentioned in both JDS’ Core Values and the “Portrait of a CESJDS Graduate.”

However, students currently have the option of opting out of Hebrew after taking it for two years in high school and can take extra Jewish text classes instead. Because of their emphasis on Hebrew education in the Core Values and the “Portrait of a Graduate,” JDS should not allow students to drop Hebrew.

Learning Hebrew is essential to students’ connection to Judaism and Israel. Hebrew is the language in which the Tanakh, siddur and other religious texts are written. It is important for students to know how to speak, read and understand Hebrew in order to engage with these texts and gain a deeper understanding of their Jewish heritage. Hebrew enhances students’ level of engagement with these texts, and thus their religion.

Even if a student feels that it is not necessary to take Hebrew because they are taking another language or feel that Hebrew is too challenging for them, JDS should still require these students  to continue to develop their connection with Hebrew, so they can feel more comfortable using it later in their lives.

Currently, if a student drops Hebrew, that class must be replaced by another Judaics class, for the student to achieve their minimum number of Judaics classes. However, Hebrew plays a different role in Judaism than Jewish texts, as it is a common language that connects Jews across the world. While Judaic classes enhance one’s spiritual connection to Judaism, Hebrew is a cultural connector for Jews.

Another reason students choose to opt out of Hebrew is the difficulty of the language. While JDS discourages dropping Hebrew, there are some cases where students have language learning disabilities, in which case the student, or even the school, encourages the student to drop out. While this is an understandable reason, JDS should accommodate these students’ struggles instead, as some knowledge of Hebrew is better than none.

Acknowledging this, High School Assistant Principal Aileen Goldstein emphasizes how JDS strongly encourages students to take Hebrew for allof high school.

“It’s also always been our strong recommendation that students continue with Hebrew for the full three and a half years because it’s part of our core values and our missionof a school,” Goldstein said.

Goldstein also stresses that it is good for students’ college resumes if they take a language in high school.

“Colleges look more favorably upon it if a student sticks with the language once they have started it,” Goldstein said.

Dropping Hebrew can close opportunities for some students. Many colleges require taking a world language for three years of high school, so a student who drops Hebrew after only two years will lose the opportunity to apply to colleges with that requirement.

Especially now, with the rise of antisemitism and the general hatred and threats towards Israel around the world, it is of utmost importance for Jews to be proud of their religion and maintain a strong connection to Israel. This begins with receiving a Jewish education and learning how to speak Hebrew to be proficient in engaging with Jewish people, Jewish texts and Jewish topics.

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About the Contributor
Maiya Blumenthal
Maiya Blumenthal, Opinion Editor
Maiya is so excited to continue her work on the Lion’s Tale this year as an opinion editor. She can’t wait to help people share their ideas with the community in this role. Outside of Lion’s Tale, Maiya plays basketball, tennis and piano, and participates in Friendship Circle and the CESJDS Debate Team. Maiya can’t wait to work with the rest of the Lion’s Tale staff to produce interesting and unique content this year.  

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