U.S. Commissioner of Education Welcomes Hebrew in U.S. Schools

“The movement to bring a knowledge of Hebrew and its culture into American schools is healthy and useful, “U.S. Commissioner of Education Earl James McGrath said today. He expressed his views on this movement in a statement at a luncheon tendered in his honor at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel by the nationwide Hebrew Culture Service Committee for High Schools and Colleges.

Prevented by affairs in Washington from appearing at the luncheon, Commissioner McGrath said in his prepared statement, read out at the luncheon, that “other modern language and culture groups have made their contributions and have become integrated in the American educational pattern. It is high time that the rejuvenated Hebrew culture whose history is closely linked with the whole history of western civilization is likewise given the opportunity to become a part of the American pattern.”

Mr. McGrath noted that the study of Hebrew as a modern language has grown in colleges and universities, more than 1,000 of which recognize Hebrew for admission purposes. More than 200 colleges and universities throughout the country teach Hebrew, and all major institutions of higher learning in New York City have well established Hebrew departments, he said. Judge Maximillian Moss, who was president of the New York Board of Education until 1951, said that there are today 38 high schools in New York teaching Hebrew. More than 6,000 boys and girls are enrolled in these Hebrew courses.

Dr. Hayim Greenberg, member of the Jewish Agency executive who is chairman of the Hebrew Culture Service Committee, told the gathering that exploratory work, conducted during the past year by members of the Committee, has shown that a number of communities throughout the country are examining the possibility of introducing Hebrew into their high schools and colleges. He announced the formation of an Advisory Council “to guide and offer technical assistance to community groups, boards of education and high schools throughout the country in implementing the study of the Hebrew language and its culture.”

Judah Lapson, co-chairman of the Committee, told the luncheon guests that eight cities, including Boston, Pittsburgh, Providence, St. Louis, Rochester, New Haven, Newark and Long Beach are following the successful example of New York City and are now teaching modern Hebrew in their schools. Many other communities throughout the country are in the process of completing arrangements to integrate this subject into their school curricula, he said.

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