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Hebrew in High Schools Impossible when Classic Languages Are Eliminated

January 11, 1929
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The introduction of the Hebrew language as a part of the curriculum of high schools, advocated by Dr. Israel H. Levinthal of the Brooklyn Jewish Center in a recent sermon, would be desirable if cultural education were on the up-grade, argues the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle,” commenting editorially on the Rabbi’s sermon.

“The plea of Rabbi Israel Levinthal at the Jewish Center. Eastern parkway and Brooklyn Avenue, for the introduction of classes in the Hebrew language in high schools and colleges is an interesting one,” the paper writes. “If cultural education were on the up grade instead of having been shorn of Greek and Latin courses the argument for Hebrew would be hard to meet. It it is through Greek that we get concepts of art and beauty, and through Latin that we get concepts of government; it is through Hebrew that we get concepts of ethics and of orthodox religion. But Greek and Latin are passing even from the colleges, and most educators would regard study of Hebrew as wasted time under present conditions.

“We suppose that Hebrew is at least as difficult a language as the Gaelic, which the Irish Free State has sought to revive. But in Ireland there is a fierce protest against teaching students what cannot assist them at all in the common relations of life where intercourse must be conducted in English. We can imagine that a like protest in which the Jewish racial stock would participate might be anticipated if there were any experimenting with the teaching of Hebrew. Like the organizers who are booming classicism in an age of vocational training, Rabbi Levinthal is standing for a very forlorn hope.”

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