Yeshiva University announced recently that seven honors students from the Yeshiva University high schools will be participating in a new independent study Hebrew literature course in which they will be mentored by a renowned Israeli author with the goal of developing their Hebrew-language creative writing skills.
Entitled “Meet the Israeli Author,” the workshop is the first of its kind in a North American Jewish high school.
Jerusalem-born Chana Bat Shahar (a pseudonym for an Orthodox woman), an alumna of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the author of nine Hebrew titles and a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Prize (1994), was chosen as this year’s mentor.
“In addition to affording these students the opportunity to meet and interact with a famous Israeli writer, this unique workshop will introduce them to modern Israeli culture and help them develop the skills and self-confidence required to write excellent Hebrew stories of their own,” said Tova Rosenberg, coordinator of the workshop and Director of Hebrew Language Studies at both Yeshiva University high schools.
“We are thrilled to be part of what is truly a first in Hebrew-language education in North America.”
From November through May, the Yeshiva University high school students are participating in monthly “virtual meetings” with Bat Shahar — conducted entirely in Hebrew — during which they will get to know the author, learn about the author’s methods and receive pointers on how to hone their craft.
“I believe that competence in if not the mastery of the Hebrew language is critical to a young person’s aspiration to become a Jewish scholar, and I am thrilled that the Yeshiva University high schools are offering their students a chance to build real skills,” said Dr. Hillel Davis, Yeshiva University’s Vice President for University Life, who attended the YUHSB students’ first meeting with the author.
“I was really taken by the enthusiasm with which these young men took on the challenge of reading a Hebrew novel and committing to write Hebrew stories of their own, as well as their ability to engage in a meaningful spontaneous dialogue with the author about her background and interests.”
'Israeli culture fix'
Between video conferencing sessions, the students will keep in contact with and receive additional guidance from Bat Shahar via e-mail.
“Having struggled myself, I know how difficult it can be to start out as a writer,” said Bat Shahar, who published her first book at the age of 40. “I am honored to have been selected as the mentor for this group of talented young writer, and I hope that I can give them the feedback they need to advance their writing, as well as inspire them to write about what they feel most passionate.”
Two of the YUHSB students and one YUHSG student participating in the “Meet the Israeli Author” workshop also spent six weeks in Israel as part of a student exchange program with Yeshivat Mekor Haim in Kibbutz Kfar Etzion and Ulpanat Tzvia in Ma'aleh Adumim respectively last December.
“These students were so taken by the immersion experience they had last year that they needed to find some tangible way to maintain the connection with Israel and its language,” added Rosenberg. “In a way, this workshop is their Israeli culture fix.”
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