Technology, Tradition, and Great Hebrew Tools 2

Larry Greenberg is a cool dad. He’s a writer for the tech website GearDiary, and he recently wrote a blog post entitled “Technology meets Tradition” about how he used techie gadgets to help his daughter with her Hebrew school homework:

My 9 year old daughter began Hebrew School just yesterday. Up until 2nd grade the children at my temple attend only Sunday School, where they learn mostly about Jewish holidays, traditions etc. In 3rd grade they also begin attending Hebrew School one night a week, mostly, I gather, to prepare them to become Bar or Bat Mitzvah.

My daughter came home from school today, and just like she does most days sat out to do her homework. After her regular was completed she took out her new Hebrew school text book and asked if she could read it to me.

I said of course. As she started reading it aloud it occurred to me that I had absolutely no idea if what she was reading was correct or not. I’d long forgotten how to read and write Hebrew myself. I felt a little guilty that I was unable to help her.

Larry then goes on to describe his novel solution: He used his iPhone to take a photo of the page his daughter was working on, sent the photo to Dan, a friend and fellow techie who happens to be a rabbi, and set up a Skype conversation between his daughter and rabbi techie. This way, his daughter was able to do her homework with the aid of someone who could hear her reading, correct any mistakes, and encourage her when she was doing well:

Using Skype and my iPhone we’d created our very own Hebrew tutorial session. Abby continued reading, and Dan followed along via his electronic copy correcting and applauding her as she went.

Great idea, right? This is a great example of technological problem solving, and (even better) of a parent getting involved in the best possible way.

Of course, we’d love to make Larry’s life a little easier.

Though Larry’s webpost includes a picture of the page his daughter was decoding, we can’t actually tell what Hebrew curriculum his daughter’s school uses. But we can tell you this:

Abby wasn’t learning Hebrew from top-of-the-line curricular materials.

We know this because if Larry’s daughter was in fact using the best Hebrew materials available, this entire geeky miracle would have been totally and completely unnecessary.

Why?

Because Torah Aura Hebrew and prayer materials come with a free homework websites that are designed for this very situation. The websites have virtual versions of the homework pages, and they have built-in audio that reads the Hebrew words out-loud along with the student.

Larry could have headed over to the appropriate homework webpage, where Cantor Ilan Davidson would have read aloud (via the miracle of internet audio) with his daughter, right along with the page in front of her.

And one more thing: The homework websites are totally free. No passwords, no serial numbers, and no activation codes.

We created these websites precisely for parents like Larry who care deeply about their children’s Jewish education, and who wish that their own Hebrew skills enabled them to help their daughters and sons succeed. So we designed sites that allow parents and children to read Hebrew together, even if mom or dad (or grandma or grandpa, etc.) struggles with Hebrew.

Parents learning with their children. That is where technology really meets tradition.

When Larry used his technological expertise to help his daughter with her Hebrew homework, he was doing something very wonderful. He was taking an active interest in his child’s Jewish education.

Unfortunately, not every parent has a tech-savvy rabbi on Skype speed dial. That’s why we developed our home workbook websites. We believe that every child deserves a a little help with their homework.

2 comments

  1. Great blog on Technology. Is there a URL where parents of our students can “hear” Ot Ba-ot, and all of the S’fatai Tiftach books?

  2. Yup. The homework websites are…

    Ot La’Baot: http://www.ot.torahaura.com/
    S’fatai Tiftah Volume 1: http://www.sfatai1.torahaura.com/
    S’fatai Tiftah Volume 2: http://www.sfatai2.torahaura.com/
    S’fatai Tiftah Volume 3: http://www.sfatai3.torahaura.com/

    We also have homework websites for Tiyulim, Journeys Through the Siddur, and L’shon Ha-Kodesh. To find them, navigate over to http://www.torahaura.com and click the “Workbook Websites” link in the top nav bar.

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