I am proud to include in my extended family tree (through my uncle’s marriage) Eliezer Ben Yehudah. In the latter part of the 19th century and early 20th century, nationalism was rising around the world, not all of which was particularly friendly towards Jews. In response, a movement of Jewish nationalism arose as well, in the form of Zionism. Eliezer Ben Yehudah played an imperative role in this movement by recognizing the need for the revival of a common national language, Hebrew. For centuries, Hebrew had been a language that was primarily written and read in prayer and study (Jewish communities communicated with each other mostly in dialects of Arabic, Ladino and Yiddish). Ben Yehudah began creating a dictionary of Modern Hebrew, and, along with others, invented new Hebrew words and grammar fit for daily communication. He was a stubborn, obstinate man who was committed to making Hebrew the lingua franca of the Jewish nation. One of my favorite stories about him tells of a pregnant woman in labor screaming for help in the courtyard of his Jerusalem home. He refused to offer assistance until she made her request in Hebrew.
Ben Yehudah would be proud if he could see how the modern Hebrew language is alive at Yavneh, especially in our lower school immersion classes. He would love the way in which our students are celebrating his birthday through the many Hebrew focused activities that are being featured for Shavua Ha’Ivrit, International Hebrew Week.
You too will have the opportunity to be proud of our students and school next week as we come together as a community at our annual Open House, January 22nd, at 6PM. Your children will have the opportunity to share their work, and you will have an opportunity to preview the work of the next grade as well, as re-enrollment season begins (keep an eye on your inbox for contracts early next week). Help us continue to build and strengthen our community by sharing Yavneh with others. Please bring friends with school age children to experience the excitement of our Open house as well and consider joining us for the next academic year. Shabbat Shalom -Zvi