How can we help our students learn Hebrew? Traditionally, they spend a year in letter-recognition activities (the pre-primer phase) and a year learning to decode (primer). And many still struggle in the years beyond with letter and vowel recognition and accuracy. So on this page we'd like to explore how to help our students to better attain the skills of decoding and maybe even reading. Feel free to add information about curriculum (i.e., using Total Physical Response to increase students' understandings before they tackle print), about developing skills (i.e., teaching how to divide words into syllables), about methodology (i.e., increasing time-on-task), or whatever else you think is relevant. Feel free, also, to expand this conversation to include Hebrew foci other than decoding/reading (see the discussion going on in the Defining Focus page).

We invite signed-in participants to respond to this question by uploading directly onto this page short papers, articles, "blog-type-statements" (Click EDIT on the top right of the page, and then in the EDITOR TOOL BAR click on the "colored landscape picture" - it will allow you to upload documents from your computer). You may also link articles or other webpages by clicking on the LINK picture in the EDITOR TOOL BAR.

We also invite signed-in participants to discuss the postings and more informal ideas by clicking on the DISCUSSION tab at the top of this page. You may start a new thread or respond to a posted one.

Finally, participants may wish to enable the NOTIFY ME feature (also on a tab at the top of this page) so that you can immediately learn of any new updates to this page.

Nachama Skolnik Moskowitz

An interesting thought as we consider issues of decoding and reading:
Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. If you can raed tihs, psot it to yuor wlal. Olny 55% of plepoe can raed tihs

An introduction to this posting is in the Discussion tab, above. Feedback and reactions are welcome there, as are new postings here!
Lifsa Schachter

Hebrew Teachers, by Mira Angrist
This essay offers a conceptual framework that looks at the relationship between knowledge and practice, with the suggestion that we better consider how we train and support our Hebrew teachers. Mira Angrist, Hebrew Consultant for the URJ

Kids, Teachers Take Two Way Street to Reading Education, Billings Gazette, 2/19/2010. This offers an idea for improving reading (or for us, decoding) instruction. While the one-way mirror is impractical for us, using a small digital video recorder placed stragetically in the room could capture a lesson for later discussion (ah, but don't forget the permissions!).

Why Bonnie and Ronnie Can't Read the Siddur, by Lifsa Schachter in Journal of Jewish Education, Vol 76, Issue 1. The abstract is here, but the length is too long for permission to be granted to post online, but it's worth seeking out to read.

Hebrew Language Lab Idea, by Peter Eckstein RJE, Temple Beth David, Palm Beach Gardens, FL
I’m playing with an idea to enhance our synagogue school's Hebrew/T'filla program that I’d like to share with you and get feedback on. It’s in the initial stage of development. Your thoughts and feedback are invited, welcomed and encouraged. Post your thoughts in the "Hebrew Language Lab" heading in the discussion forum.

Derech HaLimud - The Way to Study, by Avram Mandell
A new style of teaching Hebrew in which the teacher helps the student master strategies for success in reading/decoding Hebrew in the supplemental school setting. While many of the concepts of the program are not unique, the steps, classification and presentation teach the learner learn "how to learn" Hebrew. The program also takes time to help the learner identify his or her own learning style -- Visual, Auditory, Read/Write or Kinesthetic – so that the learner can help herself master individualized strategies. Avram Mandell, Director of Education, Leo Baeck Temple

Cleveland's "The Hebrew Prayer Project"
POSTING UPDATED 11/4/2010: Discussions at the end of the 2009-2010 school year, spurred on by a variety of articles and postings on, led Cleveland's Jewish educators to begin the process of rethinking the teaching of Hebrew and prayer. With the expertise of Dr. Lifsa Schachter (Siegal College), and the support of Nachama Skolnik Moskowitz (JECC Curriculum Department) and Ronna Fox (JECC Teacher Center), many of Cleveland's supplementary school directors and some of our more experienced teachers came around the table this summer to rethink the teaching of Hebrew prayer.

We have created a wiki space to make the documents accessible 24/7 to teachers who may wish to leave their curriculum notebook at school AND to support sharing of ideas between those teaching the prayer. The wiki's home page is here:
The full curriculum document may be accessed in a link at the bottom of the HOME page or from a link at the top of the RESOURCES page. Wikispaces aren't kind to curriculum documents that include Hebrew and/or are cut-and-pasted from another source ... so downloading the PDF will be the easiest way to see what we've done.

Local teachers are piloting it this year, but in today's more open society, we are happy to share beyond Cleveland and involve others in the dialog and reflection on this way of teaching and learning Hebrew prayers. We encourage you and your staff teaching Avot/Avot V'Imahot to join this wiki and then add to the discussion (a number of postings have been started - look at the DISCUSSION TABS at the top of the pages ... or click on the RECENT CHANGES link in the far left column to find them quickly). Remember to set your NOTIFY ME requests so you get notices of new postings. We request that you do NOT edit any of the regular pages, just note your thoughts in the DISCUSSION TABS at the top. And remember that this wiki is taking general principles and applying them only to one prayer, at least for this year.

The quickest way to understand what we've done is to begin by reading the HOME page and then by reading the first DISCUSSION posting, which is here:

We're looking forward to hearing your thoughts on our approach!
Nachama, Ronna, Lifsa

Principles of Hebrew Learning__ (uploaded 9/1/11)
The first pages of the JECC's Avot/Imahot curriculum contain a set of principles for learning Hebrew. We updated them this past year, and offer them for others to consider. We have found them helpful to read and discuss with Hebrew teachers.
Nachama Skolnik Moskowitz