Learn to read Hebrew in 20 hours or less. Does that sound too good to be true? Not for students at Chabad of Los Angeles’ Jewish Learning Academy which introduces the love of the Hebrew alphabet to Jews of all ages and backgrounds. The CAP IT program (which stands for Concept and Personality Integration) was developed by Rabbi Eyal and Tzippy Rav-Noy and incorporates the mind, heart and instinct in the process of learning the Hebrew alphabet.
However, the students aren’t necessarily aware of the mystical underpinnings of the pedagogical method as they excitedly reach for toys demonstrating the sound of a letter, clap their hands to a song about the letter and create images inspired by the letter’s shape.
Ruth Rokah was amazed at the progress her son Jacob, age 7, made in the CAP IT classes. When he began, Jacob could recognize only 5 Hebrew letters, and now, “he can pick up a siddur and read. Jacob learned to read Hebrew faster than his older brother who took the SAT at age 11,” Ruth told Lubavitch.com.
Tzippy Rav-Noy discussed the program’s pivotal role in encouraging Jews to become more involved with their heritage; “People want to connect to Judaism through language. Signing up for Hebrew classes can be less threatening than committing to learning about Judaism.”
Up until a year and a half ago, the Jewish Learning Academy was geared mainly to adults, but with the economic recession, parents were faced with heart-wrenching choices about education expenses, and some transferred their children to public schools. JLA stepped in and expanded the CAP IT program as a way to keep children involved in Jewish learning. JLA also teamed up with the Friendship Circle to develop a Hebrew learning program for children with learning differences and with disabilities such as autism and Down’s Syndrome.
The class encourages students to use their minds, emotions and instincts to grasp the subject matter, and after the entire process, students feel excited about learning. Eyal Rav-Noy gives a toy demonstrating the sound of a certain letter or vowel, for instance, a tongue depressor that reminds students to say “Ah!” He then picks up a guitar and sings a song about the letter, and then students use markers or colored pasta to create pictures of the letter. “By the time they got to the reading part it was not stressful for them. They were not afraid of it,” said Tzippy Rav-Noy.