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MIFGASHIM  June 2009

MIFGASHIM June 2009

Subject:

Mifgashim Volume 8 Issue 74

From:

Lee Buckman <[log in to unmask]>

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Date:

Mon, 1 Jun 2009 13:08:32 +0300

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Mifgashim Volume 8 Issue 74


Contents:

1.	Free copy of "Jewish Sages of Today" 

2.	Ordained Female Orthodox Rabbi

3.	Jonathan Sarna on “Saying Kaddish too Soon”

4.  	The Marshall Memo:  What’s the Scoop on Foreign Language Teaching?


~~~~~~~~~


1.	Free copy of "Jewish Sages of Today" 

Targum Shlishi, a Raquel and Aryeh Rubin Foundation, is offering up to 400 free copies of 
our about-to-be-published book, Jewish Sages of Today (Devora Publishing), to educators 
and academic administrators for grades 7-university level, in order of applicants 
received. 

It is our hope that the Jewish Sages of Today (Devora Publishing, Spring 2009), which 
provides intriguing profiles of extraordinary, contemporary Jewish leaders, will motivate 
and inspire its readers. 

We hope that it will be used in the classroom and to help with this, we are developing a 
curriculum which will be available (for free downloads) on the website that will 
accompany the book. 

To register for a free copy (on a first-come basis), fill out the form on this webpage: 
http://targumshlishi.org/sagesbook.html where you will also find more information about 
the book.


Judith Dach, Ph.D.
Targum Shlishi
Educational Consultant
954-559-9390
[log in to unmask]
[log in to unmask]
 

~~~~~~~~~


2.	Ordained Female Orthodox Rabbi

In 1984, Blu Greenberg predicated that in her lifetime the Orthodox movement would 
ordain female rabbis.  Indeed, her prediction has come true.

Although not using the title rabbi, the first Orthodox woman to complete the typical 
corpus of material for Orthodox semicha and function as a congregational leader is 
serving at Rabbi Avi Weiss’s synagogue in Riverdale, NY. The Conferral Ceremony of Sara 
Hurwitz took place on March 22, 2009. 

Harav Yoel Bin-nun, Rabbi Dr. Daniel Sperber, and Rabbi Joshua Maroof wrote teshuvot in 
support of this decision to confer this status on an Orthodox woman.

The teshuvot are in Hebrew and English and can be accessed at 
http://www.jofa.org/pdf/Responsa%20on%20Ordination%20of%20Women.pdf


~~~~~~~~~


3.	Jonathan Sarna on “Saying Kaddish too Soon”

The current issue of the Forward features an article by Brandeis University historian 
Jonathan Sarna who responds to Rabbi Norman Lamm’s recent obituary on the Reform 
and Conservative Movements.

“With a heavy heart we will soon say Kaddish on the Reform and Conservative 
movements,” Rabbi Norman Lamm, the distinguished chancellor of Yeshiva University, 
recently proclaimed in an interview with The Jerusalem Post. “The future of American 
Jewry is in the hands of Haredim and the Modern Orthodox.”

Sarna argues that this is not the first time that a movement has been declared dead 
prematurely.  Each time, the death notice was accompanied by a revival.  We are, after 
all, the ever-dying people as Simon Ravidovitz called us nearly a century ago—continually 
reinventing ourselves.

Sarna writes:  “When Lamm was young, those who followed trends in Jewish life 
expected to say Kaddish for Orthodox Judaism. A careful study in 1952 found that “only 
twenty-three percent of the children of the Orthodox intend to remain Orthodox; a full 
half plan to turn Conservative.” The future of American Jewry back then seemed solidly in 
the hands of Conservative Jews.

Years earlier, in the late 19th century, Reform Judaism expected to say Kaddish for other 
kinds of Jews. The great architect of American Reform Judaism, Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, 
titled his prayer book “Minhag Amerika” — the liturgical custom of American Jews — and 
given the number of synagogues that moved into the Reform camp in his day, his vision 
did not seem farfetched. Many in the mid-1870s believed, as he did, that the future of 
American Judaism lay in the hands of the Reformers.”

All these predictions made sense in their day. All assumed that the future would extend 
forward in a straight line from the present. All offered their followers the comforting 
reassurance that triumph lay just beyond the horizon.

And all proved utterly and wildly wrong.

At the same time, and notwithstanding the abundant evidence that Lamm might muster 
on Orthodoxy’s behalf — its prodigious birthrate, its expansive day school movement, the 
success of Yeshiva University, the remarkable spread of Chabad and more — Lamm’s 
triumphalism flies in the face of a history that has humbled so many would-be prophets, 
and glosses over American Orthodoxy’s all-too-real challenges.

Read more at: http://forward.com/articles/106674/


~~~~~~~~~


4.	The Marshall Memo:  What’s the Scoop on Foreign Language Teaching?

This helpful summary in Research Points addresses three commonly-asked questions 
about foreign language instruction in schools, a topic relevant to Jewish day schools that 
strive for Hebrew language proficiency and that question the value of teaching limudei 
kodesh “ivrit b’ivrit.”


• What’s the best age for children to start learning a foreign language? 

Young children quickly absorb any language they are surrounded by and learn to speak a 
new language more quickly than adults. But their advantage is less decisive than it 
seems. 

Compared to older learners, primary-age students do best with pronunciation, are 
somewhat weaker in learning grammar, and are about the same in picking up vocabulary. 
While early-starters are more likely to end up speaking like a native, adolescents and 
adults actually learn foreign languages faster. 

To become proficient in all aspects of a foreign language, students need explicit 
instruction and practice in grammar and vocabulary, and this happens best in the upper 
grades. “[S]ome child learners end up with accents and incomplete second language 
grammars,” say the authors, “and some adult learners become, for all practical purposes, 
as skilled as native speakers.” 

Starting early with foreign language instruction makes sense only if students are in an 
immersion program and have teachers who know the language well. “A few hours a week 
of foreign language instruction focusing on learning words, songs, and a few ritualized 
exchanges,” write the authors, “is good for cultural exposure and appreciation, but do not 
expect real mastery.” 


• What teaching methods work best? 

The best immersion programs for younger students integrate the second language with 
instruction in all subjects and focus on attaining the skills needed to communicate about 
and understand academic subject matter, not on mastering a foreign language for its own 
sake. 

These programs give students plenty of chances to use the new language in real 
conversations with other students and adults, and expose students to a variety of native 
speakers. Some parents worry that an immersion program will impair their children’s 
proficiency in English, but studies have shown that, while there may be an initial lag in 
English achievement, full-immersion students catch up and score at least as well as 
monolingual students in verbal and math skills – and may do better in some areas of 
cognitive processing. 

But immersion is not the only way to learn a new language. “For older students,” write 
the authors, “effective foreign language instruction includes direct teaching, systematic 
practice involving rules and grammar, and plenty of opportunities for conversation. It 
should be aimed at having students express and understand fully formed ideas and 
phrases, as well as learn the language’s structure.” Balance is vital, according to the 
research: not too much emphasis on meaning, but not too much mechanical drill.


• Can anyone become proficient in a foreign language? 

Differences in individual aptitude definitely affect how quickly and well a person learns a 
new language. Specialized tests can measure a person’s sensitivity to sound (this affects 
pronunciation in the new language), sensitivity to structure (this affects grammar), and 
memory (this affects vocabulary). 

A language learner’s aptitude is also affected by age, the way the person is exposed to 
the language, and the “linguistic distance” of the language being learned from English. 

This is how many hours of classroom instruction it takes the average person to learn each 
set of languages:
	- Close to English (e.g., Dutch, French, Spanish) – 600 hours
	- Different from English (e.g., Farsi, Russian, Urdu) – 1,300 hours
	- Far from English (e.g., Arabic, Chinese, Japanese) – 2,200 hours 

In addition, language learning can be accelerated and improved when motivation is high, 
for example, if a person needs to learn a language to get a job, travel, or integrate into a 
community. 

The article concludes with four summary points:

	• Starting early does not guarantee that a language will be learned.

	• Age-appropriate instruction is key: total immersion works best for young children 
(if the school is willing to make the commitment and has expert staff); a more explicit 
approach to structure and vocabulary works best for adolescents and adults.

	• Be realistic with students and parents about how much proficiency can be 
developed in a few hours a week, especially in preschools and elementary school. While 
such limited exposure won’t lead to mastery, it may build motivation and a “taste” for 
language learning later on.

	• “Recognize that for almost everyone, high proficiency in a foreign language will 
develop outside the classroom, through conversation with native speakers made possible 
by the skills acquired in the classroom.” 

“Foreign Language Instruction: Implementing the Best Teaching Methods” by Chris 
Zurawsky and Robert Dekeyser in Research Points, Spring 2006 (Vol. 4, #1, p. 1-4).  No 
e-link is available for this article although one can access a related article at 
http://www.aera.net/uploadedFiles/Journals_and_Publications/Research_Points/AERA_RP_
Spring06.pdf.

__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________

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