Catching Them Before They Fall: The Benefits of Early Intervention for Children with Language-Based Learning Disabilities in Orthodox Jewish Schools
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Undergraduate honors thesis / Open Access
Throughout Jewish history, Jewish education reforms have been a vehicle utilized by Jewish leaders to combat the trend of Jewish youth veering from their faith. In the early 1900’s, Polish Jewry was in danger due to the lack of Jewish education for Orthodox women. The threat to the Jewish community troubled Sarah Schenirer, so she started a Jewish education center for Orthodox women, “Bais Yaakov,” in order to stem the downward trend. She was extremely successful, and today there are multiple Bais Yaakov schools all over the world that offer enriching Jewish and general education to Orthodox women (Weissman, 2021).¶ Jewish schools around the world teach Hebrew language, with their ultimate goal similar to that of Sarah Schenirer: To strengthen students’ Jewish identity (Avni, 2012; Goldberg, 2004). There is mounting evidence that for some Jewish students–in particular, students with language-based learning disabilities (LBLD), including dyslexia–who struggle to learn Hebrew, the goal of strengthening their Jewish identity through learning Hebrew is not met. In fact, the opposite occurs, and these students experience feelings of marginalization from the Jewish community (Goldberg, 2004). The concern is that these students will ultimately abandon their faith community all together.¶ This paper discusses the heightened difficulty children with LBLD have had learning Hebrew, and the resulting impact their intense struggle has had on their Jewish identity formation. A discussion of potential language intervention techniques follows, and a study involving early identification and intervention is proposed to gauge if these techniques might improve the students’ access to Hebrew and, in turn, reverse the unfortunate trend of Jewish children with LBLD abandoning their community and the belief system of their ancestors. (Introduction)
Borenstein, L. (2022, April 28). Catching Them Before They Fall: The Benefits of Early Intervention for Children with Language-Based Learning Disabilities in Orthodox Jewish Schools, Undergraduate honors thesis, Yeshiva University.
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