June 10, 2005

by Andrew Silow-Carroll
Who needs Hebrew?

An American oleh wrote me excitedly about this, calling it "the most important initiative in years":

The first phase of the "Hebrew in America" program will be launched next fall with the introduction and intensification of Hebrew language immersion programs in fifteen local early childhood programs in Northern New Jersey.

As my friend explained:

If Hebrew is thrown away in the US, the split between there and here becomes official and irreparable.

And my kneejerk reaction:

The phrase 'pissing against the wind' comes to mind. We can get a core of already committed jews, already conversant in Hebrew, to ramp up their studies. You can even get a slightly less committed ring to learn a few more phrases or fund a few more Hebrew language studies courses in the community or colleges. But anything more ambitious? You can't sustain an interest in a language unless it is woven into the warp and woof of everyay life. Jews were traditionally trilingual, at least, because there felt a NEED for Torah study, a need to converse with their neighbors in Yiddish, and a need to converse with the gentiles in their native tongues. What NEED does Hebrew literacy fulfill in this day and age? To converse with Israelis, most of whom speak English anyway? > I'm urging my kids to learn chinese, so at least someone can speak to our overlords in the year 2020.


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Comments
#1

well, i wouldn't mind registering my kid for that program.
too bad the memorial foundation will only tell us who gave
a speech inaugurating it, and not how to enroll an actual child in an actual program.

Posted by: anon at June 15, 2005 12:05 AM
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