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Springboard Blog

My Hebrew Story by Sarah Bloom

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Dear Prospective Hebrew Student, 

Welcome to language, welcome to culture, welcome to community. Welcome to a unique experience, welcome to achievement, welcome to fun.  

Welcome to Hebrew. 

I was once in your shoes, choosing what language to learn in high school. It’s kind of overwhelming, having all the booths at a language fair yelling out why you should take this language or that one. I won’t yell, I promise.  

I feel like Hebrew is different from the rest of the languages. Whenever I hear someone speaking Hebrew out in the real world, I feel an instant connection to them, like we’re partial to some united community and not just two individuals who happen to know the same language. And that language is beautiful, spoken like a song. When you sign up to take Hebrew, you aren’t just signing up for any old language.  

Did you know that the magic word “Abracadabra”, actually originates from the Hebrew words ( אברא כדברא ebrah kedevrah) which means “I create as I have spoken”? Hebrew can be found almost anywhere you look, if only you know how. Beyond popping up in the strangest places, the culture behind the Hebrew language is fascinating, and oftentimes, delicious in the case of schwarma, hummus, and falafel, to name a few. Knowing Hebrew also gives you access to numerous ancient documents relevant to history and different religions. When you sign up to take Hebrew, you aren’t just signing up for a language, you’re signing up for culture. 

Usually by the end of 7th period, I’m tired.  I’m dragging my feet. I’m watching the clock. When I walk through the door of my 8th period Hebrew class that feeling goes away. As soon as I walk in, I see my friends. Friends I’ve been with in Hebrew class since freshman year. Friends I’ve gotten to know really well and look forward to seeing every day. I can say with absolute certainty that many of the people in my Hebrew class will remain close friends after high school and beyond, because when you sign up to take Hebrew, you aren’t just signing up for a language, you’re signing up for a community. 

How many people do you know who take Hebrew? I’d bet you could count the number on one hand. Hebrew is a distinct class, partly because it’s a relatively small program, but also because Hebrew is just so different from other languages. Hebrew has its own alphabet that has both print and script versions. When writing in Hebrew, you write right to left and you write the vowels under the word or don’t even write them at all. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Because when you sign up to take Hebrew, you aren’t just signing up for a language, you’re signing up for a unique experience.  

Achievement and Hebrew go hand in hand. I don’t know one person who doesn’t take Hebrew for honors credit. And whether due to highly skilled teachers or the natural intuitiveness of the language, many people in the Hebrew program have said Hebrew is one of the easiest and most fun honors classes. Beyond that, colleges like students that are different, and Hebrew is definitely a way to stand out. Furthermore, many high schools have Hebrew Honors Societies, which give students the opportunity to take the STAMP assessment, a test of biliteracy, and if you’re up for an extreme challenge, the Hebrew SAT. All of these opportunities are great additions to college applications, as well as being invaluable skills after high school. When you sign up for Hebrew, you aren’t just signing up for a language, you’re signing up for achievement. 

But perhaps most important of all, Hebrew is just plain fun. From having cookies every Friday to taking a trip down to the kitchen to bake challah, something exciting is always going on. And during class, we don’t just listen to lectures and wait for class to be over. We write skits, play bingo and other games, learn about things we are actually interested in and talk to each other- all in Hebrew. When you sign up for Hebrew, you aren’t just signing up for a language, you’re signing up for fun. 

So go ahead, highlight your courses, plan out your schedule, hope you’re in the same gym class as your best friend. But let’s make your course selection a little less stressful. Because the questions isn’t should I take Hebrew, it’s why wouldn’t I?

Best, Sarah Bloom, student in Hebrew 5: Advanced Hebrew Language and Literature 

 

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