The Jewish Eye
Shalom Ivrit: Welcome to Modern Hebrew I & Prayer Companion
Reviewed by Simon Bonim - January 28, 2010
Congratulations! You've completed a basic primer and you know your alef-bet. What's next? For young students looking to advance their knowledge of modern Hebrew, the obvious choice is the Shalom Ivrit series from Behrman House Publishers. This three-volume series offers students a sequential and lively introduction to Modern Hebrew, with a heavy emphasis on improving their reading and comprehension skills. Designed to be used over a three-year period, the first volume in this series Shalom Ivrit: Welcome to Modern Hebrew 1 is designed to be introduced to students who are in grades 3-6. Although designed for use in a classroom setting, homeschoolers will find that this series can be used effectively in a home setting, and a teacher's edition as well as additional learning aids such as a music/song CD that reinforces the vocabulary studied in the text, and word cards are also available.
Book one in the Shalom Ivrit assumes that students using this book already know their Hebrew alphabet and how to sound out words. Consequently it immediately begins with short dialogs and stories. The text is organized around the Jewish holidays, and includes exciting illustrations and lots of fun to complete exercises that will help the students to internalized the vocabulary and material they are studying. Best of all, these exercises will help keep the student engaged while also reinforcing the lessons they have learned. One of the hallmarks of this series is that in addition to following the adventures of kids their own ages, they also meet Bar, a feisty mouse, and Malmalah, a wily ant, who take a leading role in the stories found throughout this book.
While designed for grade-schoolers, adults who are studying Hebrew along with their children, will find that this text serves equally well as an introductory Hebrew text for adults - and the text is such that you will find it quite easy to work ahead of your children so that you can help them with their homework! Most important, the stories are so engaging that they not only help to motivate the student, but also fuel their interest in Jewish culture and religion, while also instilling a knowledge and love of the Hebrew language. By the time students complete this text, they will have added more than 160 words to their Hebrew vocabulary.
In addition there is also companion series that parallels the Shalom Ivrit series. This is the Prayer Companion series whose aim is to increase students prayer literacy and to teach them some of the more common prayers used in both the synagogue and at home. In book one, students learn some of the prayers related to the Shabbat and several holidays. Two of the characters from the Shalom Ivrit series, Dinah and Doron, help guide students through the companion series. In addition to learning many prayers and the history behind them, students gain additional reading practice, as well as getting to complete additional writing exercises. This companion series is designed to be used in conjunction with the Shalom Ivrit series and the chapters correspond to each other. However, for students already familiar with Modern Hebrew, it can be used alone as an aid in helping students begin to prepare for their Bar or Bat Mitzvah.
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- Shalom Ivrit II and Prayer Companion
In the second volume of the Shalom Ivrit: Welcome to Modern Hebrew series, students add more than 150 words to their Hebrew vocabulary while reading an exciting collection of short stories, folktales, and excerpts from the Midrash. In the companion prayer volume, students study the seven blessings found in the Shabbat morning Amidah and also explore various Jewish values. For grades 4-7.
- Shalom Ivrit III and Prayer Companion
The third and final volume in the Shalom Ivrit: Welcome to Modern Hebrew series, students continue to increase their reading proficiency as they follow the adventures of a group of lively teenagers as they go about their everyday routines, go to camp, and visit Israel. While in the companion prayer volume, students prepare for their Bar or Bat Mitzvahs and study the Shabbat morning Aleinu, Kaddish, and Ein Keloheinu prayers. For grades 5-8.
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