Through the Classroom Window: Making Connections Between Hebrew and Arabic

Through the Classroom Window: Making Connections Between Hebrew and Arabic

Oct 15, 2021

“Through the Classroom Window” is an opportunity for teachers to share the inspiring learning that takes place in their classrooms, giving others a glimpse into the heartbeat of the school. Today, we hear from Grade 8 teacher Elana Moscovitch about a recent visit to her classroom by Heschel’s 2021/22 ShinShinim, with a powerful lesson about Hebrew and Arabic interconnections.


In Grade 8 Civilizations, we have been learning about the development of Islam and the Quran. We have also been exploring similarities between Hebrew and Arabic words. To deepen this learning, I invited our ShinShinim, Ma’ayan and Semyon, to my class to teach students Arabic, which Israeli high school students learn as a second language.

The ShinShinim explained that Arabic is both literary and conversational; they taught students colloquial expressions such as “Kif Chalak” (Arabic for “how are you?”) and “Boker Tov/Boker Or” (Hebrew for “good morning” and “morning light”). It was beautiful to learn that “Or” echoes the Arabic word “Nur,” also signifying “light.”

Ma’ayan and Semyon explained that Arabic is spoken in different parts of the world with different dialects, and one Heschel student shared that his Saba speaks to him in Arabic.

Since we are learning about the harmonious relationship between Muslims and Jews in Golden Age Spain, students were curious about the relationship between Arab Israelis and Jewish Israelis today. Students were aware of recent conflict in the region and were eager to get the ShinShinim’s perspective on the topic.

Semyon, who lives in Bat Yam, south of Tel Aviv and close to the multicultural area of Yafo, explained that he has several close Arab friends. He noted that while the violence in Tel Aviv has impacted these relationships, they are slowly being repaired.

It was wonderful to learn about this healing and see Heschel students making important connections between Hebrew and Arabic language and culture.