Monday, March 27, 2023

My jaw dropped when I read the response of Rabbi Bob Mark (“Our Students Must Be Taught Basic Hebrew Reading Skills,” January 5, 2017) to a previous article about Dovid Chaim Greenfield (“A Conversation With Dovid Chaim Greenfield, Chayal Boded,” December 22, 2016). Rabbi Mark sifts through an otherwise uplifting story about a young man from Teaneck who admirably joined the IDF and worked hard to improve his fluency in Hebrew, and finds an opportunity to issue a broad criticism of Hebrew language education in our community. Rabbi Mark, who notes that he “occasionally” gives Bar Mitzvah lessons, then sees fit to get more specific in his target, observing that “students from Yavneh Academy in particular have to first be taught basic reading skills” and “intensive vocabulary tutoring so that they can understand the words that they will be reading from the Torah.”

As the parent of a third grader at Yavneh who by the end of his first year of Chumash study in second grade not only was conjugating verbs in biblical Hebrew with ease, but also developed such a love of Chumash that he looked forward to reviewing pesukim with an enthusiasm he otherwise reserved for video games, I am simply dumbfounded by how inaccurate, thoughtless and irresponsible was Rabbi Mark’s indiscriminate public undressing of Yavneh Academy based on what appears to be a few personal experiences.

I am far more disappointed, however, in the editors of The Jewish Link, whose website’s pronouncement that “we do not welcome personal attacks” in letters to the editor would appear to imply a policy of greater discretion than was demonstrated here. I clearly have a personal stake in The Link’s lapse in judgment when it decided at best to mindlessly reprint one individual’s glib and unfounded Shabbos-table musings, and at worst to cooperate with that individual’s agenda-driven desire to publicly single out and tarnish the reputation of Yavneh Academy, an institution to which I have entrusted my children and that I respect deeply. Beyond that, however, I agree with the Link’s assertion that the letters section of this newspaper is not an appropriate forum for a personal attack on any educational institution in our community. Not every personal observation, keen or otherwise, is worthy of reproduction for a mass audience. I sincerely hope that going forward The Jewish Link will adhere to the standard of decency it professes to uphold and demonstrate far greater tact in this regard.

Natan Krohn


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