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Who is Wise?

How many times have we as Jewish educators quoted this passage from Ethics of Our Fathers? How many times has it actually happened – where we as educators truly do learn from everyone (especially our students)

Just recently I was giving a talk about Israeli music and I played the song “Hebrew Man”. (what a great song!)

After listening to the song I asked, “any comments?”

I expected the usual responses – “cool”, “who’s Cohen?”, “look – they included Jesus…”

And then it came – the question from a seemingly disinterested 14 year old male. “Well the song says that Moses said, “let my people go” in Hebrew. Does that mean that Pharaoh spoke Hebrew?”

What a great question? So great that many scholars and Rabbis had asked that question before. I must admit that I was forced to go back to the text, the commentaries, the midrashim and of course Google. The student joined me in my search.

Neither of us are yet to come up with a totally satisfying answer – but the search has definitely been worth it. And I can state with 100% certainty that on this occasion that I really did learn from one of my students.

Hebrew Man – Ehud Banai

Speak up the language of the Hebrew man

Loud and clear! The language of the Hebrew man

It is the language of the prophets

Of the sign up on the wall

It is old and sacred

It will open up your soul

Speak up the language of the Hebrew man

Loud and clear! The language of the Hebrew man.

From the deepest mess of downtown Babylon

It will take you to the next train to Mount Zion

It will get you up, it will make you play

The language of the Hebrew man will take you high

You know Abraham spoke the language of the Hebrew man

And also Jesus from Nazareth and Mary Magdelane

Einstein Jeremiah, the Dylan and the Cohen

They knew something about the language of the Hebrew man

And when the Lord said: “Let there be light”

It was in the language of the Hebrew man

And when Moses said: “Let my people go”

It was in the language of the Hebrew man

Speak the language of the Hebrew man!

Israel Education: Myth or Reality

Teaching about Israel is not as simple as it might first appear. One of the first issues that all educators need to consider is which Israel they want to portray – a mythical image or a realistic one.

On one hand you don’t want to fill people with mythical images of the country that once used to be. Believe me I have seen many activities even today that ask children to pick oranges, make sheep out of cotton wool and milk plastic gloves that barely resemble cows – all in the name of re-creating a classical Israel.

On the other hand I have also seen activities which deliberately try to shock and awe youth into seeing all of the scars and warts of Israeli society.

Obviously the best practices in Israel education lie somewhere in between – but this may not be as simple as it first seems.