Rachel Chaput has over 20 years experience as a Hebrew teacher at Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, Texas; including kindergarten to 6th grade classes, students with learning differences, and individual tutoring for bar/bat mitzvah preparation. As a Dallas native, Rachel spent her childhood attending religious school, from consecration to confirmation, and following her bat mitzvah, studied and participated in the pioneering Hebrew teaching program initiated by Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman. Rachel is a graduate of the Southern Methodist University School of Engineering with a B.S. in Computer Science and is employed as a Senior Analyst by a petroleum consulting firm which provides worldwide services. She and her husband Brian are the parents of two young children, and they all love playing soccer and traveling the world together.
It simply did not exist.
That is what I said to myself when I went searching a few years ago for a board book to help teach the basics of Modern Hebrew to my then preschool-aged son. It was important to my husband and me that we start exposing our children to different languages because we believed the potential for children to learn new languages is limitless.
In fact, studies have shown, young children have incredible early learning skills and are uniquely equipped to learn the building blocks of one or more languages starting at birth. But what I have found from my experience is that young learners have a natural curiosity about learning which is evident when they engage in learning new language.
Every parent buys ABC books for children to learn their English letters. But what’s the difference between 26 letters, 50 letters, or more. The children don’t know the boundaries of learning and they are only set by what we choose to expose them to.
Because of this, I went searching for a board book to help teach the basics of Hebrew. I was surprised to find little available outside of standard textbooks. And therefore, I utilized my experiences as both an educator and a mother to write and illustrate what was fun and interesting to the young and old alike. These books are a culmination of what I have taught AND learned from being a Hebrew teacher.
The more I discussed my projects with others, I realized that there are parents in Jewish communities across the country who themselves don't have a sufficient background in Hebrew and would embrace the opportunity to learn alongside their children. Furthermore, I discovered that there are a wide array of families of varying faiths who want to share the gift of language with the special, young children in their lives at an early age with the hope that the love of language and learning is instilled within them. My entire goal with the books I wrote was to enable families of all backgrounds with the right resource for the introduction to Hebrew with the idea that families spend time together through reading, and I was determined to make learning Hebrew fun because learning new languages CAN be fun!