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The Student News Site of Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy


The Student News Site of Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy


The Student News Site of Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy


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Teaching with Love: Tami Sal, HBHA’s New Hebrew Teacher


Slider image by Tehilla Siboni.

A head of fashionably curled, ombre blonde, hair walks in. With a bright smile on her face, she seats herself opposite her students, calling for order at the noisy student body. The children give their ritual “boker tov” and leap right into the new material. Material that Tami Sal, a new teacher at HBHA, had spent much of her night before working on.

Tami is an experienced teacher of many years. From working with new immigrants from Russia while she lived in Israel to being an immigrant herself in America, Sal is highly experienced in teaching new languages to students. So what brought such a nomadic teacher to settle here in the school of HBHA? Tami’s story begins in Israel.

A few years back, Sal’s day began with teaching Hebrew to new young adult immigrants from Russia.. Her students were young adults, new to Israel, and they hardly understood a word of the language. But with Tami’s deep guidance and practice both in and out of school, they managed to learn the language within a year. Sal states “In one year, they became Israelis.’’

Sal immigrated then to the United States and began teaching in a Nevada Jewish school. However, Sal’s wish for a school with a family air was not complete. Sal was searching for a place where the faculty and the students were a tightly knit house, shining with the pure jubilant aura of children at ease in a learning environment.

She found that school in HBHA. Tami depicts HBHA as a community.  “I really feel that everyone is working, caring and doing things for other members. Like a small community that grows and connects to the bigger community.” states Sal. Her goal of teaching children Hebrew is achieved here in the Academy in comfort and flexibility.

When Tami teaches her class, she states that, “When the kids get the material, I leave with a feeling of satisfaction.”

As with any teacher, pride and satisfaction follow Tami out of a successful time in class. But what happens when a class fails to grasp the ideas, or when suddenly words in Hebrew sound like characters in Chinese? When faced with a disappointing lesson, Tami grows only more relentless in her dedication to teach her students the art and culture of the Hebrew language. She spends the rest of her day, thinking deeply about solutions to fix her dilemma in the classroom. By the next day, a new and renovated program captures the kids attention and suddenly Hebrew makes a whole lot more sense.

Tami Sal is committed to helping her students grasp the beauty of the Hebrew language. Photo by Tehilla Siboni

With such varied experience in the level of her students, most of it having been with older Russian students in Israel, one would wonder how fresh immigrants would differ from middle school children in their acquisition of Hebrew.

Tami has this surprising answer: “They are not so different from each other.” Despite what may seem to be impossible, Tami has a rather good point. Both the immigrants from Russia that she taught many years ago and the kids here in present HBHA are new to the language. Both have not yet been given the opportunity to delve into one of the richest languages in existence. What about rowdiness? Wouldn’t kids be harder to teach? Tami yet again answers with a surprising choice of words, “You know what? Kids are kids.’’

Tami does have some regrets when she compares HBHA students to her past immigrant students. She mentions that back in Israel the immigrants had to use the language on a daily basis. There were not many people that could converse with them in their native language save a few classmates of theirs. Forced to use Hebrew more often, the new immigrants would master the language in a matter of months. Here, however, where kids are surrounded with friends and family that are English speakers, it is harder to find time out of school to practice the language. Tami just wishes that American students, like her older, immigrant students had a more immersive experience here in HBHA, including more opportunities to practise the language in and out of class.

In the end though, Tami says that Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy has provided her with a “home away from home.” HBHA snuck it’s way into her heart and her teaching. And in turn, snuck it’s way into the minds and hearts of her students.

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