This coming Thursday evening marks the beginning of Lag BaOmer. This joyous holiday falls on the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer, the 49-day period between Passover and Shavuot. The holiday of Lag BaOmer is associated with mysticism and learning, along with picnics and bonfires.
As we approach Lag BaOmer this year, I am reflecting on the impact of immersive experiences. As summer is approaching, and many of our students are looking ahead to returning to summer camp, we know the magic of Jewish camp and the strong memories and friendships that can be formed in just a couple of weeks. We also know that trips abroad solidify strong connections with the land and people. Just like these immersive experiences, on Lag BaOmer, our sages used to immerse themselves in text by studying all night. This, I can imagine, was a time for them of deep learning and also deep connecting.
This year in ECRS, we have been immersing ourselves in Hebrew through a program called Hebrew Through Movement. The goals of this program are many, the most obvious being, to teach our students basic conversational Hebrew commands and vocabulary. But deeper than that, and at the root of immersive experiences, is the goal of fostering a positive association with the language and feelings of connection.
Hebrew Through Movement utilizes a language acquisition strategy in which students learn Hebrew by hearing and responding to Hebrew commands. This method introduces Hebrew in a playful atmosphere that is based on the ways that children learn naturally. Our students have already acquired a list of over 50 Hebrew words, all while joyfully bouncing around their Zoom screens! If you have an ECRS Kindergartner – 4th grader at home, try asking them to “lakoom v’l’heystovev” (stand up and spin around) or “lalechet ma’hayr l’delet” (walk quickly to the door). You might even want to reward them with a “m’tzuyan” (excellent)!
I am so proud of our students for all of the Hebrew learning that they have accomplished this year. Even in a virtual world and with a short amount of time, we have clearly seen the positive impact of, even brief, immersive experiences.
Mandy Herlich, RJE
Director of ECRS