This is the second of a series of articles on Menorah Societies and Hebrew Clubs in the New York High Schools.
The Hebrew Club at Thomas Jefferson High School is still carrying out its programs for another week, although the annual hiatus for mid-year examinations has curtailed activities on most of the Menorah fronts of the city high schools. Meetings have been suspended until February 1 pending reorganizations of classes.
Dr. Elias Lieberman, principal of the East New York High School, who, by the way, is a noted poet, philosopher and lecturer, was enthusiastic about the Hebrew Club when interviewed by your reporter.
STUDENTS LIKE HEBREW
“Hebrew as a language has been taught here since September, 1930,” said the genial doctor, “and it has proved to be a most successful undertaking. We have watched its success closely and we judge its progress by the increasing number of students each term who apply for this course. The demand has been greater each semester since we instituted this language. You know, of course, that it is an accredited course in modern languages. It is recognized by all the city colleges as a foreign language and can be offered in the language group for college entrance credits.
“A student who takes an academic course of study must choose two languages. In the past either Latin or French or Spanish or any combination of these languages could be taken. For the last five years Hebrew could be selected in place of any other language. It is offered by the modern language department.
HEBREW CLUB FORMED
“Through the mutual cooperation of the teachers of Hebrew and the students,” Dr. Lieberman continued, “a Hebrew Club has been organized at this school which has been of great value to the students. It carries on the study of Hebrew where it is left off in the class. There are a great many phases of Hebrew culture, language and history that cannot be discussed in class simply for lack of time. This is where the club steps in and continues.”
The club is coeducational and has a membership of over 100 students. It is a charter member of the Hebrew Culture Council, which was organized in 1931.
“The club,” said the man who has been called the most liberal principal in the city educational system,” is a remarkable unit. The members of the organization speak Hebrew at all meetings. Lectures are given in Hebrew by noted Hebrew educators in this city and are augmented by members of our faculty. If you attended any of our meetings, you would be delighted by the songs that are rendered in Hebrew and by the plays in Hebrew.
An art and publications exhibit of Jewish artists which was one of the highlights of the recent Avukah convention in Cleveland will feature a dance and buffet supper sponsored by the City College chapter of the American Student Zionist Federation next Wednesday evening at Irving Plaza Hall.
Participating in the affair, besides City College, will be the four units of the Hunter College chapter and the branches from Brooklyn and New York University. Joseph Perdichevsky is in charge of arrangements. Tickets may now be procured at the offices of the Avukah, 111 Fifth avenue.
A letter to the school editor from Morrison D. Bial reads as follows: “I am a graduate of Lincoln High School. At present I am a student of Brooklyn College. Last year I was president of the Hebrew Culture Council, a group devoted to further Hebrew in the city high schools.
“Hebrew was first given with official credit in Lincoln and Jefferson in the Fall term of 1930. There weren’t many students. The Hebrew Culture Council was started in the Fall of 1931, and in answer to our campaign the registration in Hebrew classes rose. In February, 1934, the principal of Seward Park High School, Dr. Brodie, introduced Hebrew to Seward after we had proved to him that there was a demand for it. In September, 1934, Tilden High and Morris High Schools introduced this subject also.
“Hebrew is recognized as a modern language by the Board of Regents, Board of Education and Board of Higher Education. Two and three-year regents are given every term. Hebrew is accepted by many colleges in New York City as a modern language and is given without credit in some of the others. Columbia and some religious colleges include Hebrew on their regular curricula. Brooklyn College is now considering the addition of this language to the regular course of study as the result of the work of the Menorah Club of that school.”