By: Flora Shemtob  | 

We Asked, Y(O)U Answered: YU’s Hebrew Program

Yeshiva University has always prided itself on having a dual curriculum, including mandatory Hebrew language classes. Before starting at Yeshiva University every student is required to take a Hebrew placement test; students are then placed in a class based on their score. Hebrew classes were, in the past, mostly in person and required students to show up to class twice a week, but as of this past semester, most Hebrew courses were made asynchronous. The Commentator asked students their thoughts on the new Hebrew program.

Dovid Price (SSSB ‘24) 


“For YU to talk about how they support Israel and fly the Israeli flag 365 days a year requires that they take that responsibility seriously. Part of that responsibility is taking pride in it, which includes teaching Hebrew properly. I fully support Hebrew being a requirement but it has to be done in a competent fashion. The current model is dysfunctional and it is hard to believe that a university which takes itself seriously isn't embarrassed to have presented such a class as an acceptable option.”

Yitzy Warren (SSSB ‘24)


“I don’t want to learn Hebrew. I also don't think there is any program in YU that will ever teach me Hebrew. If I have to take Hebrew, then ideally it would be a class that I can get a decent grade in. Online Hebrew is very easy and I can do all the work and quizzes without any difficulty. I can also just barely pass the final and squeak out a B. That seems fair to me.”

Gila Kalman (SCW ‘24)


“There are two things I have to say about the Hebrew program. The first is that those who take Hebrew and do not cheat are punished with poor grades and second, if the school cannot provide a quality course they should not require it.” 

Gillian Herszage (SSSB ‘24)


“The standard for Hebrew education in the Modern Orthodox world is extremely low. So many schools have random Israelis who aren’t educators teaching students. Teachers and students alike are often frustrated, and in my experience end up thrown out of class and failing vocabulary quizzes. I believe this is because YU does not value the Hebrew language. The problem with Hebrew starts at the top. YU does not value our Hebrew education, both the university and its students treat it like a requirement, not a learning opportunity. YU doesn’t offer a Hebrew major or teach Jewish education majors how to teach Hebrew. Therefore so many schools do not have qualified Hebrew teachers. 

“An online Hebrew program is proof that YU does not value a true Hebrew language education. If the leaders of the Modern Orthodox world don’t value the Hebrew language, if YU doesn’t set the standard, how can the broader community?”

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Photo Caption: Zysman Hall

Photo Credit: The Commentator