- Head of School/CEO
- HIP (Hebrew Immersion Program)
- Outside the Classroom
By Avi Halzel
Head of School/CEO
It was exhilarating to spend nearly two weeks with our Denver JDS 10th graders in Israel on our school's nationally acclaimed Hebrew Immersion Program (HIP). It was so exhilarating to be here with our students who are participating in the school’s nationally acclaimed Hebrew Immersion Program (HIP).
HIP participants spend approximately six weeks in Israel deepening their Hebrew language skills, getting to know Israelis in Ramat Negev (Denver’s sister region), and touring Israel. The 10th graders also deepen bonds recently created with their Israeli friends who came to Denver on the ART (Ambassadors Ramat Negev) program just a few months ago. Needless to say, the kids are incredibly excited about this unique and powerful experience that they are in the midst of.
The first few days of the trip were spent at Midreshet Sde Boker in Ramat Negev. Our 10th graders started their ulpan (Hebrew immersion) classes which take place both inside classrooms and in authentic settings such as stores, restaurants, and next to the canyon in Sde Boker. The ulpan classes are designed to take the Hebrew skills they have been developing all these years at Denver JDS and help them become more comfortable and fluent Hebrew speakers. In six weeks HIP students typically make progress with their Hebrew that is the equivalent of three months to two years of regular classroom Hebrew learning. These impressive gains come from being immersed in Hebrew and by spending concentrated amounts of time on language instruction.
After a week at Midreshet Sde Boker our group headed to Jerusalem to explore the sites of that glorious ancient city. While in Jerusalem we went to the Western Wall twice, toured the kotel tunnels and participated in the lighting of the Chanukiya at the Wall. We explored the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, saw a variety of different neighborhoods and synagogues, observed Chanukityot everywhere, ate shawarma and falafel, went to Yad Vashem and Mt. Herzl, had fun on Ben Yehuda Street and explored Machaneh Yehudah. We also enjoyed Shabbat in Jerusalem with the ART students. It has been rewarding seeing the bonds between our 10th graders and the Ramat Negev 10th graders continue grow and to develop into what I am sure will be lasting bonds and connections between our two countries.
There are many trips to Israel but HIP is uniquely powerful and educational. There is really nothing else like it and our school community is uniquely blessed to be able to offer such an impactful experience to our students.