Celebrating Hebrew Education During COVID-19

Tags: Federation, Teens, Families, Here for Good News

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Hebrew at @akiva, a Federation beneficiary agency, has evolved into a multifaceted program designed to reach Jewish Cleveland teens on their own time and in a way that works for them as individuals. While some teens choose to come twice a week for two hour classes, others study in person only once a week, finishing the balance of required curriculum online. For many teens, studying Hebrew @akiva allows them to earn high school foreign language credit as well. In either case, one of the hallmarks of @akiva is the personal relationships that we as educators are able to build with our learners and their parents.

For our teens, being at @akiva means maintaining friendships, increasing proficiency in the Hebrew language, and being an ongoing part of an important Jewish community. Students arrive with energy and enthusiasm after a full day of school, ready to learn and be with their Jewish friends. As they wait for class to begin, we all gather in the Mandel Jewish Day School atrium – students, administration, teachers, and shinshinim – listening to Israeli music and sharing stories from the week at school. Sports, academics, personal victories, and near-misses are all part of our conversations.

We are proud of our students, and their growing fluency with Hebrew language and Israeli culture, but our favorite part of each week is hearing about their lives, seeing their faces light up when we remember to stock their favorite snack foods, and cheering for them as they continue to grow.

As the semester ended last spring, the @akiva staff gathered to celebrate our students by traveling to their homes, wishing them a good summer and delivering @akiva treats. At the Turoff home in South Euclid, we paid a surprise visit to Jordana and Noah. Jordana just finished her second year of @akiva Hebrew and is a member of icnext cohort eight. Her brother completed icnext last year as a member of cohort six, and attended Hebrew class for all four years of high school! We were joined by their Hebrew teacher, Iris Granot, as we delivered their favorite @akiva snacks and a certificate of graduation for Noah. Ellen, their mom, was so proud as we stood in the yard and cheered for Jordana and Noah. We talked about their summer plans, and reminded them that @akiva is here for them in the summer months as well. It is through our commitment to serving each individual student that we keep our @akiva community an important part of our teens’ lives.

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