Friday, October 26, 2007


While it's difficult enough for parents who are trying to teach their kids about their own culture and language in an ever-increasingly assimilated society, it's gets even harder when that culture and its language have a completely different alphabet.

When my oldest son was 3, for his upsherin. We made him a chart (similar to the picture on the right) with all of the Hebrew Alphabet (One might argue that the term alphabet comes from the Hebrew Aleph, Bet and not the Greek Alpha, Beta).  These 22* letters are the core of our Jewish lives, and they are much more than just letters that are used to make words (for example, each letter has a numerical value as well, and numerical analysis of scripture often reveals some interesting facets of the Torah).  Much like any child in any language, we have been teaching our boys the Aleph-bet since they were toddler, and similarly, while children can memorize the symbols in the alphabet quite easily, putting them together to make words is something that typically isn't done until the child is of kindergarten age.

Now that my oldest child is in Kindergarten, at our orientation meeting, his teacher talked about their curriculum and how they have a 'Letter of the week'. Each week will have its own letter, and each week they will be learning words that correspond to that letter. She also made it clear that they would also learning the Hebrew letter with the corresponding sound.

Well, the first week was 'A' which corresponded to the Hebrew Alef. The next week was B- bet. I was anticipating that the third week would be 'C', but instead of 'C' words, my son was learning 'G' words. It took me a second, but then I realized that 'G' corresponded to 'Gimel' the third letter of the Hebrew Alphabet. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they were learning the English alphabet in order of the Hebrew Alphabet.

Needless to say, our son's Hebrew vocabulary is increasing week by week, almost to the point, where he picks up on the conversations that my wife and I have in Hebrew so that the kids don't understand. I think by June we'll have to switch to a new language.

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