Springboard Blog

Springboard Blog

MY HEBREW STORY: YAEL SMITH

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Yael Smith

My parents like to say that my Hebrew journey began at birth. I watched Oy Baby DVDs, filled with Hebrew songs, weekly, before Shabbat and listened to Naomi Shemer Hebrew lullabies as I fell asleep in my crib. As a young child, I learned Hebrew in pre-school, then in kindergarten at CJDS and a few words here and there at home with my parents. After moving to the suburbs and going to public school, I learned the foundations of Hebrew in Religious school at NSS Beth El, and I quickly realized that Hebrew came pretty easy to me. At both Ramah Day Camp and Ramah Wisconsin, where I have been a camper collectively for 10 years, Hebrew is infused throughout the day. Camp Hebrew is the best because we learn slang words that would actually help us blend into the culture in Israel. Moving to Solomon Schechter in 6th grade only made my Hebrew knowledge stronger since the language was integrated throughout the whole school day.  Once I graduated from Schechter I decided to go to Highland Park High School. There, I had to choose which language to take: Hebrew, Spanish, Chinese, or French.  Because of my love for Hebrew, I chose to take Hebrew to continue learning the language that I always loved, in new challenging ways at a high school level.

By learning and speaking Hebrew I feel connected to Jews across the world. Just recently in Florida, at a restaurant, I was sitting next to an Israeli couple who spoke Hebrew. To my surprise, I could understand almost their entire conversation, and they were commenting on several other people in the restaurant! The more people who learn and speak Hebrew, the more the language will live on. Therefore it is important for me and for everyone to study Hebrew if they are given the chance. I am grateful to be given the opportunity to study this ancient language and pass it on to future generations.