Our Stories

Celebrating the Hebrew Language through Poetry, Books, Songs and History

February 8, 2018 by Vered Goldstein (Faculty and Staff)

A vital component of MILTON’s Hebrew and Judaic Studies program is to make connections to Israel throughout the year. We achieve this goal by letting our students experience Israeli customs, foods, dances, songs, and stories. This year, as we celebrate Israel’s 70th birthday year-round, we were motivated to bring even more Israeli culture to our students. As part of our Israel education, we introduced the children to two figures who are famous for their contributions to the Hebrew language: Datia Ben-Dor and Eliezer Ben Yehuda.

In the Early Childhood division, we dedicated the month of January to Datia Ben-Dor, whose songs and stories we often teach, use, and sing in our classrooms. We introduced her to the first graders and dedicated a section of our classrooms and the school’s entrance to displays about her life and work. After the first-grade students learned about her, we brought back many of Ben-Dor’s songs and stories to the classroom that the students had learned in previous years, as well as the current one. The students were excited to find out that they were already familiar with so many of her works. One of Ben-Dor’s most famous songs is called “Yaldah Achat U’mitriah Achat” (“One Girl and One Umbrella”), which was also converted into a story: On a rainy day, a little girl is walking outside with her big umbrella. On her way, she meets other children. Each time she shows her kindness and offers them to join her and stay dry beneath her umbrella. When there are five of them under the umbrella, walking in the rain, the sun comes out and greets them. First, we read the story in class, and then we learned the words and tune to the song. We borrowed a big umbrella from the school, and the children loved singing and acting out the song.

We also marked “Hebrew Language Day,” which falls on the date of birth of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the “reviver” of the Hebrew language. We taught the children about Ben-Yehuda and dedicated a bulletin board to him and the words that he invented, some of which are familiar to the students. The students were all amazed to find out that a little over hundred years ago, people did not speak Hebrew in Israel. They were also very excited to learn that they already knew many of the words that Ben-Yehuda invented when he revived the language, including glida (ice cream), booba (doll), varod (pink), afor (gray), and rakevet (train).

The funniest thing happened when the students found out that one of the words that Ben-Yehuda invented was the word vered (rose), which they were already familiar with, and which was also the name of one of the first grade Hebrew teachers… me! I did have to clarify to the students that, while the fact that Ben-Yehuda invented the word “vered” a bit more than a hundred years ago does mean that the word is one hundred years old, it definitely does not mean that their own Hebrew teacher is that old!

We all had fun learning these wonderful facts about Israel, the Hebrew language, and two of the figures that shaped the country. We are looking forward to learning more about Israel during this special 70th anniversary year.