‘Hands at your side like a soldier,’ first-graders belt out ‘Hatikvah’ –at NY school with public funding

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Bear in mind that NY shut down the Arabic-language school in Brooklyn, the Kahlil Gibran academy. Well Nina Porzucki reports for PRI’s The World on the new Hebrew language academy charter school in Brooklyn– which is largely supported by public funds but as the Forward says, came about through the persistent efforts of Michael Steinhardt, who is pro-Israel. The Porzucki story begins with first-grade music hour at the school. (thanks to Rabbi Brian Walt)

[Teacher is heard saying]

“Hands at your side like a soldier…”

[Students begin to sing.]

Porzucki: It’s not just any song… it’s the Hatikvah, the Israeli national anthem.

“There is absolutely no religion taught at the school,” says Sara Berman, the founder and board chair of the Hebrew Language Academy….

Berman is also the daughter of the Jewish philanthropist Michael Steinhardt, who sponsors programs connecting young American Jews with the state of Israel. But according to Berman, her school isn’t specifically about Israel or Jewish identity. It’s about learning a language with a long and rich cultural history.

“Hebrew is an interesting language because over the past century and a half there has been a revitalization of Hebrew,” says Berman. “It is both a classical language and today, certainly a completely modern spoken language.”

Hebrew may be a modern spoken language, but modern Hebrew is only spoken by about five million people worldwide.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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