Students from the second graduating class of the Hebrew Public Charter school network traveled to Israel to see for themselves the land whose language they were speaking, and about whose culture they had learned. They visited tourist sites, harvested olives and met with their peers in south Tel Aviv as well as in the Ethiopian, Druze, Bedouin sectors.
There are currently three Hebrew-language Public Charter school campuses in New York City and nine affiliate schools across the United States, serving local populations up to a total of 3,000 students.
Many of the schools have a large majority of students from African-American, Hispanic, and Asian communities who become proficient in Hebrew and learn about Israel. Some of the students are Jewish and Israeli and who prefer the Hebrew Public Charter system because of its high standards.
“These trips are vitally important as we seek to educate global citizens with a love of Hebrew, the people and State of Israel,” said Valerie Khaytina, Chief External Officer of Hebrew Public Charter system.
“We hope these feelings will last a lifetime, and that bringing our students to Israel to see the country, culture and language that they study every day will become a formative event in their lives.
“We also hope that in the next few years 10,000 American children of all backgrounds will be learning Hebrew every single day, and many will visit Israel to learn about its history and complexity,” she added.
With the exception of English language arts, Hebrew is woven into its subjects through a team-teaching model. As most of the teachers are from Israel, the students learn to speak with Israeli accents, and Hebrew is also the primary language spoken during lunch and recess. Hebrew teachers oversee the students to help reinforce the Hebrew-only rule during these times.
The group of 32 middle school graduates from the Hebrew Language Academy in Brooklyn, New York and in Hatikvah International Academy in East Brunswick, New Jersey who arrived in Israel have had an opportunity to deepen their connection with the country they have studied for years as they learned modern Hebrew. Since kindergarten, these students have learned about the country and its democratic values and have created connections between their lives in the United States to those of their peers in Israel.
One student, Zhara Adeyemi, whose parents come from Nigeria and Trinidad said this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. “I don’t think I would have had the chance to do this when I am older,” Zhara said in polished Hebrew. “The thing that is great about this school is learning Hebrew and learning about Israel, but also the fact that I meet other students from all over the world.”
“My family is very Zionist and are extremely proud of the fact that I am visiting Israel,” said Victor Oleynik, also in Hebrew. “I am very excited to be here and see Hebrew everywhere I go, and to know that I can understand it.”