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  • Writer's pictureTziporah Altman-Shafer

Exercising Your Brain

Students at Yeshiva Elementary School learn together.

In one of the stranger episodes in my teen years, my father’s secretary (who was not Jewish) said to me, “I know why you and your siblings are so smart! You read Hebrew and it is backwards. It must exercise your brain.” I must say, I didn’t know how to respond, so I just stood there and smiled.

I do not believe that Hebrew exercises children’s brains because it is backwards, but learning a foreign language certainly helps with brain development. I have had several public school teachers tell me that they feel day school students are better prepared for high school literature classes because they are accustomed to reading Biblical text critically. I have also had students tell me, with surprise, that analyzing a poem or a book is so much easier because of their experience with Torah study.

In his article Selling Torah: Talking Points on the Value of Jewish Education, Paul Steinberg writes the, “Purpose of Torah study is the intellectual benefits, which are not to merely recount names, places, and laws. In educational lingo, Torah study pivots on the highest levels of learning objectives. In Benjamin Bloom’s famous Taxonomy of the six domains of learning, Torah study dwells among the highest domains of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. This is a result not of the fact that we study or even what we study, but the manner in which we study – the Jewish approach to how we study is itself the means by which our intellect grows. And it’s not just our intellect that is stimulated and expanded by how we approach Torah study, but our very identities.”

So maybe my dad’s secretary was onto something. Hebrew may not exercise your brain, but Torah study certainly does! Why Go Jewish? Jewish Education expands a child’s mind, heart, and soul. There is still time to sign your child up for a Jewish school. Get more information about local Day Schools, High Schools, Religious Schools (Sunday School),and Preschools.

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