An experimental approach to Hebrew learning reinforces the identity of Jewish students who can not afford private school education, while pro-Israel supporters of other religions are building.
Now, in its ninth year, the public school network of 13 schools uses a mix of philanthropic foundations and state funds to offer quality bilingual education to both Jewish and non-Jewish students. Today, these schools in New York, New Jersey, California, Minnesota and Washington, and new schools are expected to open soon in Philadelphia and Texas.
The school teaches Hebrew to all its students – about half of them are Jewish. In addition, lessons on other traditional subjects are taught in Hebrew. The school does not teach subjects about Jewish faith, but offers information on Israeli culture, history and national holidays, which often coincide with the Jewish holidays.
"We are not a Jewish school, we are the only public network in North America that teaches Hebrew to children from all backgrounds," says Valery Heine, the chief officer of the Hebrew public.
The network – with more than 3,000 students – was established by the "Arivim" philanthropic foundation and the "Steinhardt Philanthropic Foundation" in 2009, in order to provide a free alternative for parents and students seeking education that can provide Jewish identity but without the heavy costs of the individual Jewish school Can range from $ 10,000 to more than $ 20,000 a year.
"A group of crows sought to find the next big idea in order to make Jewish education cheap for all children," explains Hetina. "About the same time, they had to learn about the idea of charter schools and they said, 'Well, that sounds great.' Then they learned that in order to be a charter school, you have to be open to everyone. Religion in our schools. "
"We are a public school in the United States, which means that we are open to all students in the neighborhood," says Hittina. "And in the United States, you can not ask the students what their religion is." Anecdotally, we believe that about half of the students in the entire network are Jewish, but we do not know for sure. "
For USA Edimi, a fifth-grader at the School of the Melanesian Academy of Music in Brooklyn, NY, she just wanted a "good school."
"We won the lottery to enter," she says.
USA, volunteering to be non-Jewish, says she speaks Hebrew "pretty good."
She appreciates her "wonderful Hebrew teachers" as well as the international feeling of the school. "I come to meet new people, my friends' families from all over the world, I have Argentinian friends, Russian friends and friends in the Caribbean."
USA, who spoke with GSCAN on the last day of her class trip to Israel, says that Israel is beautiful. We enjoyed being here, "he said, noting that choosing olives and hiking on Mount Carmel would have been a personal highlight.
Back home in Brooklyn, speaking Hebrew can sometimes provide unexpected benefits.
"When you walk around the neighborhood, especially I, as an African American, no one assumes you can understand Hebrew, and then you will see people speaking Hebrew and understanding them – whether they say something good or if they say something bad about you."
She once says that she was in the park, and a woman's girl fell, but the mother did not see that she was on the phone, so America told her something in Hebrew, "She was pretty surprised."
As to whether she could use her Hebrew in the future, USA says she is "not sure."
"On history and culture, on global citizenship"
Victor Olinick of the Sheffsdale Bay neighborhood in Brooklyn opened the Hebrew language school in the kindergarten.
"I do not know if I'd say I was fluent [in Hebrew]But I'm pretty good at it, "he says." But believe me, there are children whose parents come from Israel, and they are much better than me. "
He loves the quality teachers and the friends he did. "I can meet many children I can relate to, many Russians," says Victor. "There are many Russian children in Brooklyn."
"I can meet many children I can relate to, many Russians, there are a lot of Russian children in Brooklyn."
Victor is Jewish on his mother's side, but his father is a Christian. "We celebrate Hanukkah and Rosh Hashana, we do not celebrate Christmas."
According to him, in addition to the Hebrew language, students also learn about Israeli culture.
As for his first trip to Israel, Victor was pleasantly surprised. "Israel is very nice," he says, calling it "very different" than he had expected. "I thought Israel was a great desert." He adds that "definitely" will come back because "there are so many things to see."
Other children in class trips, Victor says, "go to the Appalachian Trail, we're going to Israel."
Part of Israel comes to students is the rich Hebrew experience, the principle of learning the Hebrew language. "We have to practice our Hebrew and a bunch on this trip," says Victor.
Tina tells JNS that for many Jewish families, the school's appeal is "the idea of teaching Hebrew children, and about Israel's history and culture – about global citizenship."
However, for many others, "sending their children to school is simply a better choice," she says. "Unfortunately, many neighborhoods in the United States, school networks are not so big, and families just want a better school."
"For other families, this is the emphasis on a foreign language, and it can be any foreign language.It can be Hebrew, it can be Chinese, it can be Spanish," adds Khaytina. "For some families, they like Hebrew to be the language of the Bible, so even though we teach modern Hebrew, people want their children to understand it and read the Bible."
"Be respectful and understand others"
Although it is a public school open to all students regardless of faith, Hebrew learning comes with its stereotypes, good and bad.
"When we first opened our new school in Brooklyn last year, someone drew a swastika sign in front of the school, so even though we are not a Jewish school, we are very vigilant about security," says Hina, one of the escorts on the Israeli trip. "In light of what happened now in Pittsburgh, we issued a special statement that we have strengthened all our security efforts."
"Even though we are not Jewish, once people hear Hebrew, we can become a target," she admits. On the other side, she adds, "and sometimes, when the parents hear that the school is Hebrew, they link Jews to a good education, and they want to send their children."
For example, she says, "We hear a lot of our Afro-American families, they know that Israel is a leader in high-tech and innovation, so they see it as an opportunity for their children to come here, to study here."
As for the benefits of this experiment, which has taken more than $ 20 million in philanthropic funding so far, it is still too early to tell. Each school opens with a class garden in the classroom. Last year was the first year that Mill School – the first school to be opened – had a bachelor's degree.
According to Hittina, time would tell whether the exposure of children to the Hebrew language and the history and culture of Israel for nine years would provide a better connection than other short-term efforts that the pro-Israel community offered to turn Jews and non-Jews into Israeli supporters. "These children grow up learning about Israel, and understand Israel as a state."
Only when these students become adults will it be known whether the tremendous Hebrew education creates Jewish students with a stronger Jewish identity, and non-Jewish students who defend and defend Israel in anti-Israeli forums.
"One of the founders, Tom Kaplan, said it was called" disruptive philanthropy. "It's still a crazy experiment," admits Hetina.
However, she says, "We hope that Zara or one of her colleagues will become the next ambassador in the State of Israel."