Hebrew Infusion: Language and Community at American Jewish Summer Camps - A Conversation at Brandeis University

Hebrew Infusion co-authors and National Jewish Book Award winners:Sarah Bunin Benor, Jonathan Krasner, Sharon Avni in conversation with Riv Ellen Prell, Shaul Kelner, moderated by Jon Levisohn.
Tue, 4 May, 2021 3:00pm - 4:00pm
Stain glass of books and Hebrew and English "Library"

  • How has the Hebrew language become an integral component of American Jewish summer camps?
  • What role does Hebrew play in building Jewish community?

Register now for this webinar featuring an engaging conversation on Hebrew, camp, and American Jewish life with Hebrew Infusion co-authors and National Jewish Book Award winners: Sarah Bunin Benor, Jonathan Krasner, Sharon Avni In conversation with Riv Ellen Prell (University of Minnesota), Shaul Kelner (Vanderbilt University) Moderated by Jon Levisohn (Brandeis University).

SARAH BUNIN BENOR is Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies at Hebrew Union College and courtesy Professor of Linguistics at the University of Southern California. Her books include Becoming Frum: How Newcomers Learn the Language and Culture of Orthodox Judaism, winner of the Sami Rohr Choice Award for Jewish Literature.

JONATHAN KRASNER is the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Associate Professor of Jewish Education Research at Brandeis University. He is the author of The Benderly Boys and American Jewish Education, winner of the National Jewish Book Award in American Jewish Studies.

SHARON AVNI is Professor of Literacy and Linguistics at Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of NY, and a Research Associate at the Research Institute for the Study of Language in Urban Society at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Special thanks to co-sponsors: Brandeis University Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, Brandeis University Hillel, Brandeis University Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program, Collaborative for Applied Studies in Jewish Education (CASJE), City University of New York, and Hebrew Union College.

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Hebrew Infusion: Language and Community at American Jewish Summer Camps by Sarah Bunin Benor, Jonathan Krasner and Sharon Avni

Book cover for Hebrew Infusion: Language and Community at American Jewish Summer Camps

This book, of interest to non-academics and academics alike, explores how camp leaders came to accept and rely on Hebrew infusion and how they approach it, experience it, and critique it today.

It explains the social, economic, and cultural conditions that created camp Hebrew and how ideology about language came to supersede language fluency. By analyzing Hebrew ideologies and practices at Jewish overnight camps, it offers new ways of thinking about American Jewish communities and the relationship between language and group identity.

Winner of the 2020 National Jewish Book Award in Education and Jewish Identity

"A lively, evocative and wide-ranging account of American Jewry's complex and often maligned relationship with Hebrew, this important book is as much about community as it is about language.” Jenna Weissman Joselit, author of Set in Stone: America's Embrace of the Ten Commandments.

“At a time when “social distancing” has disrupted our sense of community, the ways in which the Jewish camps build connections through language seems ever more important. The authors weave together a fascinating linguistic, historical and sociological assessment of how Hebrew is taught and used to socialize children not just to communicate, but to experience being part of something larger.” Leonard Saxe, author of How Goodly Are Thy Tents: Summer Camps as Jewish Socializing Experiences.

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