The Covenant Grants

Early Childhood Hebrew Language Immersion Network

Organization: The Jewish Theological Seminary, New York, NY

Grant Year: 2002

Project Director: Dr. Steven M. Brown

Type of Grant: Signature

Grant Amount: $150,000 (3 years)


Early Childhood Education
Hebrew Language Acquisition

This project led to the creation and expansion of the Ma’alah Early Childhood Hebrew Language Immersion Program, which worked to strengthen Hebrew fluency among pre-school children. The goal of Ma’alah was to restructure the approach to teaching and learning Hebrew throughout America.

Ma’alah was based on the notion that learning a second language sporadically throughout the day is not as impactful as learning a language continuously for a minimum of 75 minutes per school day.

Through this grant, JTS launched the program in three communities: Los Angeles, New York, and Washington D.C. Over the three years of the grant, Ma’alah programs were started in 21 early childhood centers spanning all denominations (including non-denominational community schools). By the conclusion of the grant period, over 1,000 students were engaged in Hebrew immersion at Ma’alah sites. Ma’aleh and its approach were publicized to the Jewish education field through presentations at CAJE conferences and a meeting of the National Association of Jewish Early Childhood Specialists.

Teacher training was a critical component of the Ma’alah program. This was accomplished through school visits, coaching, and mentoring sessions as well as an intensive four day Hebrew Immersion Institute for all participating teachers.

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