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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Darchei Noam’

In The Beginning… A New Chumash Workbook Helps Build Basic Skills

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

             Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, founder and director of Project YES, an organization dedicated to guiding troubled teens, is trying to put himself out of business.


 


            Working on the theory that many teens end up at risk because they don’t succeed academically and slip through the cracks of the educational system, Rabbi Horowitz is attacking the problem at its source, hoping to keep as many children as possible thriving in school with a workbook series aimed at helping a greater percentage of students achieve academic success.

 

            The Bright Beginnings workbook series utilizes a curriculum stressing a visual approach to learning instead of teaching children to memorize lists of words, an approach that according to many studies is far more successful for the majority of the population.

 

            “A very clear pattern emerges when I talk to kids who haven’t succeeded academically,” said Rabbi Horowitz. “The number one reason that kids don’t make it in school is that they never picked up the language required in Judaic studies. It is crucial that they pick up proper skills when they are still young.”

 

            Having taught as an 8th grade rebbe for 15 years, Rabbi Horowitz saw firsthand how many students in the higher grades lacked the vocabulary skills necessary to succeed in Judaic studies. He recalls walking into the local sefarim store in his first year as a teacher and asking for their best Chumash program to use as a teaching aide.

 

            “They just laughed at me,” reminisced Rabbi Horowitz. “A Chumash program? Who had a Chumash program?”

 

            Rabbi Horowitz, menahel of Yeshiva Darchei Noam in Monsey for 14 years where he now serves as dean, has spent the last 12 years devising a Chumash curriculum designed to give students the basic skill set they need to master the language of the Chumash. Teaming up with two talented rebbeim who have taught in the yeshiva – Rabbi Yosef Rawicki and Rabbi Yosef Kitay – Rabbi Horowitz has released the first in what is a planned series of workbooks which will teach not only the skills required to learn Chumash, but Mishnayos and Gemara as well.

 

            Volume 1 of the Bright Beginnings Chumash Workbook tackles parshas Lech Lecha. Words are broken down into shorashim (root words), suffixes and prefixes, with different colors and shapes used to denote nouns and verbs.

 

            “Ninety-three percent of all the words in the Chumash come from just 270 shorashim, explained Rabbi Horowitz. “If you teach students the basics, they can learn how to break down words and find their meanings instead of just memorizing endless lists of words, an approach that doesn’t work for so many children.”

 

            Rabbi Betzalel Rudinsky, the current menahel of Darchei Noam, whose five sons attended the yeshiva, praised the approach used to break down the language of the Chumash, saying, “Kids in first grade literally have an understanding of the words that many adults don’t have.”

 

            Dr. Ephraim Book, a Darchei Noam parent, echoed that sentiment and found that reviewing material with his young son provided him with an unexpected benefit.

 

            “I never looked at a pasuk and broke down the words into shorashim. I just recognized them from the past. Now that I am learning with my son this way, I am actually breaking down words in my own learning which helps me tremendously as an adult.”

 

            Rabbi Horowitz hopes that by continuing the series with additional workbooks, not only will teachers save endless hours having to create a curriculum of their own, but also that students will continue learning in a way that comes more naturally to them year after year.

 

            “Try to imagine what it would be like if a school used a different math program in every grade,” said Rabbi Horowitz. “There would be no consistency and every year students would be required to master a different system of learning. The idea here is to create a series of workbooks that will continue the visual learning approach, enabling students to build on the skills they acquire with every passing grade.”

 

 

            Sandy Eller is a freelance writer who has written for various newspapers, magazines and websites. She has also written song lyrics and scripts for several full-scale productions. She can be contacted at sandyeller1@gmail.com  

Darchei Noam

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Many years ago, an Arab called a friend of his. “They’re after me, they want to kill me and my family. No one will help us. What can we do?” His friend, realizing the seriousness of the situation, quickly answered. “Come to my house. I’ll keep you here until it’s safe for you elsewhere.” The Arab and his family lived with his friend for quite a while.

 

He had been cooperating with the Israeli security forces, feeding them information over an extended time.  When he was ‘discovered,’ the security forces abandoned him. The ‘friend’ who refused to leave him to his fate, and instead saved his life was Noam Arnon, and the place was Hebron.

 

 Sitting in an office next to a person for almost 15 years, and living upstairs from him for almost 11 years, provides you with a perspective about that someone which other people don’t normally have.

 

            There are several traits that stand out when thinking about Noam. The first is a habit that most people (at least most that I know) don’t have. He listens. He hears what other people have to say. And many times what he hears influences what he does, even if it means changing his mind.

 

 Our Sages teach that it is supremely important to have a lev tov, a good heart. Noam Arnon certainly qualifies for this distinctly positive attribute. It is written that a lev tov encompasses several different qualities: A “good eye” – through which a person sees most everything through a positive looking glass. This is vintage Noam. Despite his extremely high standards and ideals, he almost always observes events, including personal affronts, from an optimistic and constructive viewpoint.

 

 This can be, for people like me, working with him, very frustrating, as I do not always see people and events with that same “good eye.”

 

 The same above-mentioned teaching also speaks of being a “good friend and neighbor.” I can attest to Noam’s adherence to both of these attributes. There are few people I know who are as loyal as he is to his friends, sticking up for them whatever the situation may be. And as a neighbor, I think he would bend over backwards and give the shirt off his back, should the situation so demand.

 

 The fourth trait mentioned is a person who knows how to ‘plan for the future,’ and understand ‘what’s coming next.’ Advanced planning is always recommended, but not always easy to do. Planning ahead doesn’t just mean setting up next week’s schedule. Rather it entails vision; it necessitates thinking not only about tomorrow, but also about next year, a decade from now, and even further into the future.

 

 Perhaps one of the best examples of Noam’s vision was his founding of Midreshet Hevron. Initiated some 30 years ago, this organization has utilized tours and lectures to reach out to thousands and thousands of people, children and adults, teachers and tour guides, tourists and Sabras, introducing them not only to Hebron, but to the wonders of the Judean Desert, the southern Hebron Hills, and many other sites. When the Midrasha was founded, it would have been impossible to foresee its influence on so many thousands of people. But it has left an indelible mark on all those it has educated.

 

 Lastly the teaching speaks of the most complementary trait, that of a “good heart.” Probably the best example of Noam’s “good heart” is related in the first paragraph of this article. Another instance I remember is when a group of gentiles visited Ma’arat HaMachpela. Some of the Jewish people present at the Ma’ara began acting in a repulsive manner. Noam reacted quickly, rebuking them, asking, “Is it not written that Abraham is the father of many nations? Why shouldn’t others have the privilege to visit here too?”

 

 Noam Arnon is a man of many talents. He has toiled as a leader within Yesha for decades. For many years he was the official spokesperson for Gush Emunim and continued as spokesman for Hebron’s Jewish community. He is a superb tour guide, whose tours of Hebron have international prominence. A more recent project has included taking hundreds of Israelis serving in the IDF, on historical tours – from privates, to fighter pilots, to high-ranking officers. Many of the people had never before been to Hebron and their opinion of the city was based solely on what they read and saw in the media. Following their tour of Hebron, a visit which includes absolutely no politics, just history, many of them than begin to comprehend the significance of Hebron to the Jewish people. This is due to Noam’s extraordinary efforts, showing them Hebron as the roots of the Jewish people.

 

 On one hand, Noam has a poetic neshama, and is the regular leader of the Shabbat Carlebach services Friday nights at Ma’arat HaMachpela. It is not an exaggeration to say that Noam is spiritually bonded to Judaism’s 2nd holiest site.

 

Very rarely does he miss praying at the Ma’ara, almost three times a day, seven days a week.

 

 On the other hand, Noam Arnon is an authentic intellectual, a man who continues his formal education to this very day; a man who is well-read, and whose dream it is to write. He has already authored a number of books and pamphlets about Hebron, including a short history of Hebron and Ma’arat HaMachpela, the relationship between Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Kook and Hebron, and a compilation of Jewish sources dealing with Ma’arat HaMachpela. This is surely only the beginning. The future will definitely see major publications pumped out of his printer. Frequently he tells friends, “let me just sit and write, that’s all I really want to do.”

 

 Anyone who knows Noam and his abilities is not about to allow him to “just” sit back and write. His leadership, which has included participation on the Hebron Jewish community’s local council for many years, is still vital. Perhaps when one day he retires, he’ll be allowed the luxury to “just sit and write.” But not yet.

 

 It is quite fitting that Noam Arnon was awarded the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism. The Moskowitzes, Dr. Irving and Cherna, are paradigm Zionists, who will be remembered in the annals of Jewish history, as are the Rothchilds and Montefiores.   There are many people in the world who are willing to express opinions and mouth support for the Jewish people in Eretz Yisrael. There are very few who are willing and able to bestow the type of support the Moskowitzes have provided over the years. The decision to award the Moskowitz Prize to Noam Arnon is doubly important. Of course, it recognizes his life’s work for Am Yisrael, Eretz Yisrael and Hebron. But it also recognizes the fundamental importance of Hebron to the Jewish people. Nothing could be more natural than Noam Arnon, Hebron, and the Moskowitzes coming together as one, binding them as links in a chain, giving honor to all three: the bestower, the bestowed and our common roots: Hebron.

 

 Many times I’m asked what Noam’s like. My answer is very short and simple; Noam is, as his name implies. In English, I guess the best translation of noam is pleasant, conveying relaxation and quiet, or perhaps best put, peace of mind. This best describes Noam and his personality. Personally it is an honor to call him a friend and colleague. On behalf of the Hebron Jewish Community, it is a pleasure to wish him a hearty Mazal Tov on reception of this worthy distinction.

 

 He should be privileged to continue working “his way”- “the way of noam“ or in Hebrew, darchei noam.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/darchei-noam/2009/06/03/

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