Hebrew at Ohef Sholom for children and adults

August 10, 2019

What’s Happening

Every language enables a way of thinking. The language that thinks Jewishly is Hebrew and Ohef Sholom Temple offers myriad opportunities to explore and learn with Hebrew classes for adults and children beginning next month.

The adult classes aim to make the prayer book come alive with meaning. Dates and times will be posted soon on the temple’s website OhefSholom.org.

Hebrew classes for children are designed to enable them to think with words which Hebrew uses as core to awareness. For example, children will learn that Shalom does not mean Peace—Peace, that core Latin value meaning nobody questions authority and everybody stays calm in their place. Shalom is rooted not in pacifism, but in Completion, Fulfillment, Come-true-ness, the goal of all best questions, struggles, and inventive new efforts.

Because English rose out of pagan dialects and the Latin Mass and evolved as a vehicle for Anglican worship, it has its own way of shaping thought. It has plenty of words for Christian concepts of faith, sin and salvation, but no words equivalent to core Jewish concepts such as Tzedakah, Ahavah, Emunah, and Brachah. In addition, Hebrew verb tenses shape the perception of time Jewishly; the sentence structure emphasizes action. It is the language of Jewish thinking.

Ohef Sholom is adopting a new Hebrew curriculum this fall, expanding to include more grades, and to individualize instruction. Using the Mitkadem system, created and extensively tested by the Union of Reform Judaism, youngsters who want to know more can move ahead at their own best pace. Meanwhile, students with schedule challenges, different learning styles or special needs, will get the help and time they require.

On staff at the 175-year-old Reform synagogue is a certified special education teacher who assesses and mentors students who have challenges and helps other faculty members to adapt their curriculum for success.

Overseeing the implementation of this program is Kathryn Morton, who brings 30 years of Hebrew teaching experience. Morton retired in 2011 from five years as principal of the United Hebrew School, and in 2014 from 16 years as director of education for Temple Israel. Retirement did not last for her and she has been teaching Introduction to Judaism for Ohef Sholom and classes of Hebrew and Judaic studies to their middle school-age children for several years.

Go to ohefsholom.org or call 757-625‑4295 for more information.

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