Guest Post by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz
Rabbi Yakov Horowitz has developed and published a new Chumash workbook that has an innovative new approach to educating children. It involves teaching them rudimentary Hebrew language skills which are fundamental to achieving success in Jewish learning. He has asked me to post these – his words. I am more than happy to oblige. His words follow.
It is with much gratitude to Hashem that I inform you of the release of our Bright Beginnings Chumash Workbook to the public at large - in time for the upcoming Torah Umesorah Convention this weekend.
Please click here to download Bright Beginnings Chumash Book an 11-page preview of the workbook and click here to see the 10-minute promotional DVD which explains the educational philosophy that drove the creation of this workbook and provides an explanation of its mechanics.
If you are a parent of school-age children, please allow me to suggest that you have a look at the DVD even if you are not considering purchasing the workbook as it contains information about the critical importance of teaching language skills to your children.
This workbook is based on the concept that children are served best when they are first taught the basic structure of Lashon HaKodesh (Hebrew language). This colorful workbook introduces the learner to the meaning and usage of the most common shorashim (root words) and the shimushim (prefixes and suffixes) that are used to conjugate the root words.
Thirty years of experience in education - initially teaching the weaker track of eighth grade (1981-1996), and later serving as Dean of a growing Yeshiva (1997 - current) and the Director of Project Y.E.S., a nationwide program designed to assist teens-at-risk (1996 - current) - have led me to the inescapable conclusion that failure to attain rudimentary language skills is by far and away the greatest educational reason that children don't succeed in school.
The Bright Beginnings Workbook was developed over a thirteen year period by the first grade Rebbe in Yeshiva Darchei Noam of Monsey and is designed for classroom use at the grade level when children are first introduced to chumash. It can also be utilized at home should parents wish to enrich the Hebrew skills of their children and is an effective tool for adults who have a limited background in Judaic studies, and even for yeshiva graduates who were taught chumash by rote in their childhood.
We began with Parshas Lech Lecha instead of Parshas Bereshis because it contains shorashim (root words) found more commonly throughout chumash, and the narrative is one that is simpler for the children to follow.
In addition to its use in a school setting, it can also be utilized at home should parents wish to enrich the Hebrew skills of their children. We have also found it to be an effective tool for adults who have a limited background in Judaic studies, and even for yeshiva graduates who were taught chumash by rote in their childhood.
The workbook is intended to supplement the chumash, not replace it. With that in mind, we recommend that children learn from a chumash and use the workbook as a learning aid. Each pasuk (verse) is translated on a separate page and nearly all Hebrew words are translated on their own line.
The coloring and fonts of the words on the translation sheets are designed to draw the learner's attention to accurately match the root word (shoresh), and the prefix/suffix to its respective meaning. There are three worksheets for each Pasuk, each designed to support the synchronized manner in which languages are taught.
1) Match the Shoresh - helps the children learn and retain a growing list of shorashim,
2) Color the Prefix/Suffix - develops an understanding of how the "lego pieces" of Hebrew language click together to form more complex words, and
3) Match the Word - helps learners apply the shoresh recognition of sheet #1 and the language skills of sheet #2 to recognize the actual words as they appear in the chumash.
In the summer of 1999, Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe zt'l, one of the foremost educators of the previous generation, strongly encouraged me to disseminate the creative educational materials of Yeshiva Darchei Noam to the broader public. This is my first effort to fulfill his wishes and I hope this workbook and future volumes will help children acquire the language skills that will help them become lifelong, independent learners of Hashem's Torah.
All the best,
Rabbi Yakov Horowitz
Dean, Yeshiva Darchei Noam of Monsey
Director, Project YES
Rabbi Horowitz has sent this link to a video preview of his Chumash Workbook.