Kadimah Academy- Forward-thinking with appreciation of the past

April 12, 2016
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Learning to converse in Hebrew and understanding its historic development into a modern spoken language has been a core focus of middle-school students at Kadimah Academy.

As a community Jewish day school, Hebrew is a major component of the curriculum at Kadimah.  Students as young as 3 years old begin learning and speaking Hebrew in the Ganon, which is the only semi-immersion Hebrew program available to parents of pre-school children in Western New York.  The emphasis on Hebrew as the language of the Bible and prayers continues through grade 8, with Biblical studies and prayers exploration.

Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, known as the “reviver of the Hebrew language,” promoted his belief that if children could learn Hebrew from a young age in school, they would become virtually unilingual in Hebrew when they grew up. In his words: “The Hebrew language will go from the synagogue to the house of study, and from the house of study to the school, and from the school it will come into the home and… become a living language.” (Hatzvi, 1886)  Kadimah Academy institutes this philosophy throughout the school day, and this year, the middle school students under teacher Michal Shmuel Lewis have incorporated an additional piece in their Hebrew studies.

Lewis’ emphasis on high-level Hebrew academics led her to incorporate an Israeli school textbook used in Israel by Israeli students and published by Israel’s Ministry of Education.  The text is advanced and the content is very relevant.  Middle school students are learning about the development of the modern Hebrew language, and the life, philosophies and achievements of Eliezer ben Yehuda.

The students are engaged in various activities, such as building vocabulary, finding word roots, and analyzing both written and oral texts.  By becoming proficient Hebrew-language speakers, they adopt Hebrew as the symbol of their linguistic nationalism.  It strengthens and solidifies their link with Israel and Israelis.  When Kadimah students visit Israel, the link is sealed.  Moreover, Kadimah students’ commitment to Hebrew and Israel is evidenced when our alumni continue to learn Hebrew, visit Israel or make Aliyah.

On Yom Ha-Atzmaut, this year on May 12, students will prepare presentations to the rest of the school about Eliezer Ben-Yehuda.  The celebrations will be open to the community,. To make a reservation to join Kadimah for an 11:30 a.m. lunch, please call 716-836-6903.

Current Kadimah Academy students thank Morah Talia Berkowitz, Morah Becky Laufgraben, Morah Naomi Cowen, Rabbi Joshua Strosberg and Morah Michal Lewis for being phenomenal teachers!  Kadimah alumni thank the many previous teachers for inculcating a love and mastery of the Hebrew language.

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