Hebrew Play

Hebrew Play is an interactive program that exposes families to the joys of learning Hebrew. Hebrew Play conducts playgroups, all in Hebrew, for young children 0-3 and community events for children 0-5.

Location: Brookline , MA
Year founded: 2010


Hebrew Play is an engaging program that exposes families to the joys of Hebrew as well as to Israeli culture. Each week focuses on a new theme through lively Hebrew music, books, and activities. The class is conducted all in Hebrew. No prior Hebrew experience is necessary. English & Hebrew speakers are welcome.  In year one 30 families who attended Hebrew Play as a lay-led class; year two 60 families attended a monetized class, year three grew to 90 families, year four was also 90 families.  In total since 2010 -2015 we have engaged 550 families in Hebrew Play experiences.  We have read over 48 different Hebrew books, listened to at least 85 different Israeli children's songs, and enjoyed learning Hebrew through music and play with family and in community.  OUR STORY: Hebrew Play started as a grassroots playgroup by families interested in exposing their children to Hebrew through Israeli "classic" songs and books while also developing a social network of Hebrew speaking family friends. We are a mix of Israelis, children of Israelis, Americans with a background in Hebrew, and Interfaith couples. After a year of lay led volunteers we shifted the model to professionalize and monetize the program. In addition, Hebrew Play received funding to start "Hebrew Play Live" community events at which "alumni" would reconvene and join with prospective families at a family concert. These are Shira B'Tzibur (sing-along style) with Israeli musicians, a Hebrew story, and a craft activity - all in Hebrew. In the past three years we have hosted 7 "Hebrew Play Live" concerts in a variety of locations in Boston. Our target audience is bilingual families but our curricula and resources will be flexible to utilize immersion learning for non-native speakers. Our program is targeting the growing need for Hebrew programming in the American Jewish community. American, Israelis abroad, and interfaith families have shown increased interest in providing intensive Hebrew instruction for their children. These Jews are often searching for a cultural entry point to their communities. Hebrew Play fills the need in communities for Hebrew speaking families to connect to each other and to the larger Jewish community. We also, most importantly, support and encourage families to speak Hebrew utilizing authentic Hebrew children’s literature and music as the anchors for play. We heavily promote literacy, with a story read during each class, and we augment fine and gross motor skill development through hands on activities in addition to the language development. Hebrew Play is also an entry to family engagement in synagogues. Hebrew Play sees itself as a partner with our host sites. We collaborate with synagogue family educators and invite families to partake in Jewish family programs and Jewish pre-school opportunities. What are we looking for in a grant opportunity? PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT Hebrew Play has been approached by many communities to adapt our program to meet their local needs. We are seeking to fund an expanded family education / early-childhood project, “Play With Hebrew Play," a professional, expert reviewed Hebrew language immersion curriculum and resource project for children ages 0-3 which will enable our organization to replicate and expand our Hebrew language playgroups program nationwide while being responsive to each community’s needs. MUSIC MEDIA CENTER FOR FAMILIES & EDUCATORS We are looking for a grant opportunity to make our Hebrew music resources, lyrics (in Hebrew, English), and transliteration accessible online to families and teachers in an integrated fashion. It will be like Spotify, but with Israeli children's music with Hebrew, English, & transliteration available on the screen. RESOURCES FOR FAMILIES & EDUCATORS Educational Toolkit Development: Two toolkits will be developed - one for families and the other for teachers. The content of these toolkits will include, but are not limited to, suggestions for teaching second language learners; games that promote language production; guides to integrating prior learning into the classroom; advice for how to bring classroom content into the home; instructional strategies for teachers; storytelling strategies; and reading tips for families.

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