Naor Mayer 0

Hebrew Language in Fair Lawn Schools

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Dear Fair Lawn BOE members and administrators,

Thanks for all your hard work and dedication. Fair Lawn’s school system is one of the main reasons we all decided to make Fair Lawn our home and this would not have been possible without you.

Currently, the Fair Lawn World Language program offers three foreign languages: Spanish, French, and Chinese. These offerings have evolved over the years and have adapted to address the changing demographics and requests of the town’s community. However, it has been many years since Fair Lawn has last done such revision and reached out to its community to solicit their interest and update Fair Lawn’s World Language offerings accordingly. Therefore, we propose adding Hebrew to our district’s World Language curriculum offerings.

Fair Lawn has an increasingly active Jewish community that encompasses Jewish-Americans, Russian-speaking Jewish-Americans, and Hebrew-speaking Jewish-Americans. These residents have been investing time and effort in teaching and maintaining Hebrew language skills to their children. There are many students in our district who already have some facility with understanding and/or speaking Hebrew, and offering a course that follows a curriculum set forth by the district would prepare them for a true command of the language and would likely save thousands of dollars for many families in Fair Lawn who currently use private education for Hebrew schools. Furthermore, it will open this opportunity to families who cannot currently afford private education.

Public schools across the U.S. offer Hebrew as part of their World Language offerings. In Bergen County, Northern Valley Regional High School at Demarest (NVD) is the latest to join the trend, starting this academic year, while Tenafly and Cresskill school districts are currently on an advanced stage of considering adding Hebrew to their World Language programs in the next academic year. Even though Hebrew is a new program in NVD, the interest level amongst students is so high that they already offer four different levels of Hebrew classes, including an honors level class.

Hebrew is a language both ancient and modern. With an unbroken literary tradition going back more than 3,000 years, it is the premier example of a classical language revived as the living language of a world community and the idiom of their daily lives. The unique historical phenomenon of Hebrew’s revitalization, modernization, and secularization, as well as its transformation into a spoken cultural medium, offers meaningful opportunities for students to explore the evolution and purposes of a language and its function in building and sustaining communities worldwide.

The proper grammatical and linguistic teaching of Hebrew would prepare students with the tools necessary to study this language at a collegiate level and a potentially professional one as well.

Hebrew is becoming increasingly relevant in the world of international business, and mastery of the Hebrew language has pragmatic benefits as Israel’s influence in world markets continues to expand. Israel has the third-largest number of companies listed on the NASDAQ exchange, and is recognized worldwide at the cutting-edge of industry developing the technology of the future. Israel is a giant when it comes to innovation: a global leader in engineering spending and VC investment, and home to global Engineering centers for the likes of Google, Apple, and IBM. In light of Israel’s growing influence and prominence, fluency in Hebrew and modern secular Israeli culture is a profound asset for our students’ futures.

Hebrew is also a desirable language to know for those pursuing a career in government and in areas such as diplomacy, intelligence, and the military. Various departments and agencies of the United States government considers Hebrew an important language, and several offer scholarships and grants to students pursuing studies in this and other non-Western languages considered critical to US security.

There are currently several NJDOE certified Hebrew teachers in our area. With over 250 Hebrew educators within commuting distance of our district, we believe more teachers will show interest once this program is implemented, thereby providing continued support for Hebrew education at Fair Lawn for years to come.

Therefore, we are seeking the support of the Fair Lawn BOE members and administrators for adding Hebrew language studies to the Fair Lawn World Language curriculum and would appreciate your support in making this important and valuable addition to the diversity of our schools.

Thank you on behalf of our Fair Lawn community,

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