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Tal Bassali
Zehud Jewish Online School & Foundation Jewish Life Europe

Hebrew: The Language of Our People

Noa Tishbi features at the main event at Binyanei Hauma (screenshot of the event)
Last week is ‘Diaspora Week’, and throughout Israel various events are taking place to highlight and emphasize the bond between Israel and Diaspora Jewry.
However, the jewel in the crown of Diaspora week – which is being run by the Ministry of Diaspora along with its many partners in Israel and beyond – was a remarkable show of song, dance, prose and poetry that was led by Noa Tishby and that took place at Binyanei HaUma in Jerusalem.
Perhaps – considering the message of the show – you may have imagined that Noa and the many others who appeared on stage would have chosen to speak in English since the majority of diaspora Jews are English speakers. But this was not the case and almost everyone in the show delivered their talks and speeches in Hebrew.
Of course, many Israelis do speak English. However, while Israelis love their English, they actually love their Hebrew more, and while the messages expressed at the event were for diaspora Jews, they were also for Israeli Jews too.
But this then led me to think: How many diaspora Jews would have been able to understand what was said on that stage? And what is the state of Ivrit education in the diaspora?
The answers to these two questions, that all too few of us are prepared to admit, are ‘too few’ and ‘not great’, and while some good Ivrit curricula have been produced over the past 10-20 years and are now being used in some elementary schools, many schools have downgraded the importance of Ivrit education. What this means is that even those schools who do teach Ivrit rarely enable their students to reach the level of competent reading, writing and speaking of Ivrit.
Zehud, which is an online supplementary school for children in Europe, strongly believes that good Jewish education should include good Ivrit education. In fact, our school – which receives funding from the Ministry of Diaspora – is able to cram enough Ivrit and Judaic Studies in our online classes taught by our exceptional teachers to 4-8 students per class – so well that students who have attended our school for more than 4 years are able to read, speak and write Ivrit. And how do we know? Because this is the message that one of our teachers received from one of our students just recently in anticipation of a Purim lesson:
להכין לעכשיו:  180g קמח ,מים, 1 ביצה, 100g חמאה, 100gסוכר, סכר וניל, מלח וכוס.
If you read and understood the above message, then clearly you had a good Ivrit education and you may want to watch the video of the above-mentioned show. If you either read and didn’t understand it, or couldn’t read or understand it, perhaps now might be a good time to invest in your own Ivrit education.
To find out more about Zehud, please visit https://school.zehud.com/
About the Author
Tal lives in Venice, Italy, in an antique Jewish Orthodox community that enjoys over 500 years of colorful history. She has fallen hopelessly in love with Jewish Europe and runs The Zehud Jewish Online School & Foundation for Jewish Life in Europe. Most communities today don't have a Jewish School, by virtually uniting smaller groups to create a critical mass, we have connected it with high quality Jewish education . Passionate about promoting sites of Jewish interest and Jewish personalities , Tal especially enjoys social encounters and hosts locals and internationals for eclectic Shabbat dinners. She has taken her management skills and applied them to various multicultural challenges, family life and even parenting. Tal believes in the power of the WE.
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