My name is Noam Zetouni and I am a senior at Deerfield High School. My earliest connection to Israel and the Hebrew language stems from having been born in Israel. I only lived there for two brief years but continued to speak Hebrew at home and to celebrate the Israeli culture and traditions. In Chicago I began preschool at Gan Yeladim and later attended Solomon Schechter, a private Jewish day school, from kindergarten through 8th grade. My love for Israel was strengthened through my experiences at Schechter and my annual visits back to Israel.
The decision to take Hebrew in high school was an easy one, and it was probably the best decision I ever made. Because I was already fluent in the language, I began in Hebrew III Honors and smoothly worked my way to Hebrew V Honors. I also took on the role of President of the Hebrew Honors Society where I helped recruit more students into our program. Additionally, I joined Israel Club board and planned fun events that attract dozens of students the club each month. Because I had surpassed the highest level of the Hebrew program as a Junior, my teacher took me on as a Senior Teacher. I now co-teach the Freshmen Hebrew class with her and share my passion for the language with my students.
Beyond my familiarity with the material, I enjoy Hebrew at my high school because it places me in a community with people who share my love for Israel. Our Hebrew program focuses on more than just the language itself. It carries with it the Israeli culture. We have culture days once a week where we enjoy food, watch Israeli films, listen to Israeli music, and play games in Hebrew. This tradition is envied amongst those not taking Hebrew, so we even put on an annual Israeli Culture Day for the entire school where countless students are exposed to the opportunity to take Hebrew. Our flourishing program represents more than just a fun class. It showcases the increased popularity of young people’s pride to be Jewish and to reflect the importance of their Jewish identities.
I am pleased with the Hebrew program that I have helped build and will continue expressing my love for Israel beyond high school. The language connects me with Jews around the world and the Israeli experience has enhanced my passion for the culture. Hopefully, through Hebrew in the High, more people can foster the same love I have for Israel and the same desire to pass it onto others.