Back To Hebrew School

Selling my 3 kids on Conservative Hebrew School today is a hard sell because they’ve grown up in the era of cloud-powered, commercial-free TV shows, where a drag on their time is the Internet going out again, prompting my kids to bemoan in collective unison, “Gevalt”, as if they just realized their egg and cheese order from the deli was served on a drab regular roll versus the expected, not supposed to specified for, standard Kaiser Roll instead. Once, my 5-year old son grew frustrated with our voice-powered assistant Cortona, not recognizing the Johnny Cash song he requested, “I’ve Been Everywhere”, to be exact, prompting him to yell with surging palpable, huffy disgust, “Cortona, you’re useless. Throw yourself out the window already.”

In order to draw attention away from all the various screen distractions which exist today, Conservative Hebrew Schools in America need a disruptive restructuring of their teaching style, which doesn’t sound so old world, Charlie Rose dronish. If they stand a shot at making the study of Torah, a wondrous, awe-inspiring, less obligatory, steady slog of mote memorization for sheer studying stake.  I propose the use of comedy, to achieve this purpose of making Hebrew School greater than any Simpsons on-demand episode on Hulu could ever offer.

Famous humorist Victor Borge said, “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” So I recommend Hebrew School teachers at Conservative Synagogues to start using comedy as an engagement tool to turn their students on to learning about all of our big deal biblical Jewish figures through using Internet speak like leading a classroom discussion on the best Jewish Prophets on Ranker for starters.  This past Saturday for my own version of Hebrew School, I got my son excited to learn more about his Hebrew name Jeremiah, by emphasizing the fact how Jeremiah is considered one of the major prophets in the Bible, which perked his interested immediately by just emphasizing the word, major. Especially, after pointing out how the Bible has minor prophets to, which are closer to supporting characters like Rob Schneider who serves the useful purpose of making Adam Sandler look like a major leading star in comparison, despite his perfected schlump star look.

I couldn’t even tell you the name of one of my Hebrew School Teachers at our Reformed Synagogue growing up, which is a shame like not learning in US History in the 8th grade how IBM developed technology that made it easier for the Nazi’s to identify European Jewry. Right now, IBM’s Watson Supercomputer is thinking, “No shit Sherlock.”

The only thing memorable about my reformed Hebrew School experience growing up was my friends from our school district in Edgemont, NY district feeling a tad tougher than the suburban softer Scarsdale kids in our class, because they’d throw endless streams of candy Nerds at Danny Farber from Scarsdale while never fearing any form of hardcore retaliation in return. The other way to make time pass by in Hebrew School was my friend Ari and I upstaging one another by writing new obscure Heavy Metal band names on our denim three ring year binders of yesteryear such as Danzig, Man O War and Overkill.

I’ve always been committed to raising my kids Jewish to ensure my cousins didn’t get exterminated in the Holocaust for nothing. I want my kids to live out dreams they never could as proud and loud, unapologetic Jews all the way. I refuse to be another slacker assimilator and allow the spirit of Judaism to die out in my family on my watch, in my quest to become more mensch like than the rest.

So, I’m assuming ownership of my kid’s conservative Hebrew school education this year during the year of Corona by relearning Hebrew while teaching my kids the holy language of kings for the 1st time in the process. I plan on making the teaching of Hebrew to my kids interesting and more stimulating than my Reformed Hebrew School past by tapping into my funny Jew bone and putting my imaginative powers to work by crafting short stories about made-up historical characters based on all the Hebrew letters such as Gimmel Be The Good. Gimmel Be Good being the nice Jewish boy who invented the dreidel gambling game to distract the Romans from their forbidden Torah studies during the hardcore Hellenization of Israel at the time.

When my 3 pitch-perfect, angelic, blemish-free children repeat the prayers in Hebrew for Shabbat after me, it brings tingles of unbridled joy down my spine. Because in this special glowed, light-filled moment, we become at one with the divine, which makes our sweet Jewish home, truly shine.

Michael Kornbluth