In my role as Chair of The Council for Hebrew Language and Culture in North America, the central address for Hebrew advocacy, we partnered with CASJE at our most recent North American conference to bring some of the latest writing about Hebrew education to the field. This was an opportunity for teachers of Hebrew, shlichim working in schools, philanthropists, and community leaders to engage in a rich conversation about how the research agenda can be in dialogue with decision makers to create collaboration and a coordinated effort.
CASJE brings a level of academic expertise to key decision makers at the local, regional, and continental level to help guide efforts around the implementation of excellent Hebrew language education, a field with lots of passion and experience but only loosely anchored in the best thinking about second language acquisition, sociolinguistics, and a range of disciplines that can contribute to success outcomes. At the same time, it is important for the research agenda to be informed by the needs, questions and concerns of the field so that intellectually rigorous approaches can be applied in solving systemic challenges. I think CASJE can have profound impact in this regard, making certain that in addition to the wisdom and expertise of teachers, educators, clergy, administrators and the like — each with their own set of lenses and tools — the field is also guided by solid research, sophisticated thinking, insights from literature reviews, and analysis from even the broader field of education and educational research.
As a practitioner who looks to current research to inform my own thinking and writing, I often turn to CASJE publications to gain knowledge on both the state of the field and the research questions being surfaced through CASJE's work. The three recent literature reviews regarding Hebrew language learning expanded my thinking and provided me with insights beyond my own field of inquiry. By bringing members of the CASJE community together with others at the Hebrew Council, personal and organizational relationships have started that can serve as connective tissue to further strengthen the community's capacity to move our shared educational agenda forward. On a very personal level, it was also wonderful to get to know some of the people behind the articles I read, which I integrate into my own thinking and writing, and that guide my work in my organizational and professional settings.