Five Questions, Five Minutes
This month's topic: Hebrew School
(Heshvan 5763/October 2002)
Compiled by Audrey Shore
1. Ramona Fastow
2. United States Military Academy (West Point, New York)
3. It was a rocky one. I usually went to religious school wherever my mom was currently teaching. The majority of my years in Hebrew school were at a Reform synagogue. I think I was the only one who took classes seriously. Before my Bat Mitzvah, my family joined a Conservative shul, and I started practicing my Torah portion with our Rabbi. Post Bat-Mitzvah, I tried out Hebrew High School for a year. Although I learned an incredible amount about Judaism, the atmosphere was more of a status-symbol contest than anything else.
4. I participate in all of the Jewish activities that West Point has to offer - Jewish Choir, Hillel, services, etc. Our rabbi, an Army Chaplain, teaches a Hebrew elective, which I'm planning to take as soon as I've completed all of my required courses.
5. Effective: Going to Israel, and being immersed in that hardcore Jewish environment for six weeks. Ineffective: Can't think of any. Even if the environment wasn't so welcoming (such as Hebrew High School), I still learned a lot.
1. Shira Nirit
2. William Patterson University (Wayne, New Jersey)
3. We got stuff in the mail from chabad, like this kids magazine Moshiac Times; also the Jewish Standard.
4. I went to Israel on Birthright in May 2001, and went back in June. Arrived in the Old City in August and studied there for a couple of months; currently, Partners in Torah.
5. My Jewish identity is due almost entirely to Jewish Outreach. I think that chabad kept some spark inside me alive until it was ignited by Birthright.
1. Sara Beth Berman
2. University of Florida (Gainesville, Florida)
3. I went to Hebrew school 3 times a week through 7th grade, and then I went to Judaica high school through my senior year. I was also in confirmation class my sophomore year.
4. In Gainesville? HA! The occasional Jewish Studies class.
5. I learned the most from USY in general, Wheels (as a Wheelnik and as staff this past summer), and Pilgrimage.
1. Andrea Lankin
2. Fordham (New York, New York)
3. Six hours per week of afternoon / Sunday school type stuff at my synagogue, plus summers at Ramah.
4. At a Catholic university taking, bizarrely, a course on Jewish-Christian relations in the Middle Ages (I'm a grad student).
5. The students in my Hebrew schools had no desire to learn, and they infected the teachers with apathy and general boredom. There were a few good classes that stood out, but, for the most part, my pre-college Jewish learning was a waste of time for all concerned. Ramah taught me much of what I know about Judaism, and my friends at Brandeis (undergraduate school) taught me more.
1. Farnaz Hakimian
2. Lake Forest College (Lake Forest, Illinois)
3. I went to public school during the days and on Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays I went to Hebrew school. My informal education included Kadima and USY.
5. The most important parts of my informal and formal education haven't been the actual material, but rather the people teaching and the sense of community I had.
1. M. Berk
2. Tacoma Community College (Tacoma, Washington)
3. Sunday school on Sundays, Hebrew school to prepare me for my BM twice a week, normal public schools completely devoid of Jewish culture and studies. Went on the first BBYO/ISI Eastern Europe & Israel trip in the summer of 1995 (I loved it!).
4. Studying Hebrew and Jewish history independently, perhaps adult Jewish education depending upon a scholarship from the UJF-Seattle.
5. Moving around a lot (CA, CO, WI, back to CA, and then to WA as an adult), I got to experience the rainbow-assortment of more reformed Jewish studies. I was taught what each individual felt I needed to know, usually based upon the minimum requirements for looking like I knew enough when I turned thirteen. After moving to the Seattle area, and now as a member of a congregation for the first time in years, I get to see many young men and women step-up to the bimah from various educational backgrounds, and realize that I wish I would have grown up here, where there are such things as the Jewish Day School, a huge Jewish community, and an overall sense of family. But then, it's never too late to start over. Independent studies through literature have helped me figure out the pieces I need to build-up my knowledge, and adult education offered through the UJF-Seattle seems to be something which people use, and I would like to participate in as well...
1. Gil Baron
2. Los Angeles Valley College (Los Angeles, California)
3. It was mostly rhetoric. The most interesting moments were growing up with the same Jewish kids.
4. Much more interesting. Jewish Studies at school is like opening such a door beyond challah and grape juice.
5. The most effective aspects of my Jewish Education have been the concentration on cultural Judaism, and seeing how the religious aspect brought it about.