I was walking home after my first meeting with my Mentor, Rabbi Ed Harwitz, from the Jewish Education Project in NYC. In our meeting, we spoke about the status of Hebrew language acquisition in North America. As a leading figure in Jewish educational leadership, Rabbi Harwitz strengthened my observation that Hebrew language teaching has a lot of catching up to do.
As an Israeli who has been living in NYC since the summer of 2012, I found it surprising how so few people, if at all, are trying to align Jewish education with 21st century learning standards and how desperately Hebrew teachers are sought for.
Our conversation made me curious, and I decided to surf the net and see how many people speak Hebrew in North America. I knew that some American Jews know how to speak Hebrew but I never saw this one coming: out of approximately 5,500,000 Jews only 216,343 speak Hebrew.
That is less than 4%!!!