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April 05, 1963 - Image 34

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1963-04-05

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Hebrew Is Taught Without Pointing in
Haiim B. Rosen's 'Israeli Textbook'

A work of great magnitude,
"A Textbook of Israeli He-
brew," with an introduction to
the classical language, by Haiim
B. Rosen, has been published by
the University of Chicago Press
(5750 Ellis Ave., Chicago 37).
Acclaimed as "the first com-
prehensive account of current
Hebrew to be written in an-
other language," this extensive
work, in 400 pages of text, is
recommended as being suitable
to teach the student to read,
write and speak Israeli Hebrew
while acquiring the knowledge
to understand Biblical Hebrew.
The author, who is a lecturer
in Indo-European linguistics at
the Hebrew University in Jeru-
salem, and who was a visiting
professor of Hebrew at the Uni-
versity of Chicago, resorts to
conversational material in his
teaching method and then pro-
ceeds to advance the instruction
by means of simple narratives.
He makes frequent use of Bib-
lical passages as well as of
modern literary passages, inter-
mingling theM with prose and
In order to accomplish the
purpose of creating a know-
ledge of spoken Hebrew,
Rosen also makes use of
transcripts from news broad-
casts and newspaper excerpts.
"While an effort has been
made to suit a reasonably good
literary taste and to avoid oddi-
ties, the sole intent and pur-
pose of these selections is their
usefulness for the study of
language," Rosen explains. "The
principle criterion for the in-
corporation of these literary
texts in the book was their
suitability at each given stage
of the student's progress."
Rosen adds that his book "has
been devised in a way to suit
the needs also of those students
and instructors who follow a
more (or solely) classical (i.e.,
biblically) oriented course."
Careful to present only "au-
thentic types of utterence,"
Rosen explains that he deviates
occasionally from traditional
Hebrew grammatical terminol-
ogy and a section of his text-
book presents a collation of tra-
ditional terms with those used
in the book.
It is noteworthy about Ros-
en's book that Hebrew is
taught in it as currently
written — without any point-
ing. "Only when biblical texts
are intrduced in sequence is
an outline given of the Tiber-
ian pointing system, and the
texts are, of course, presented
in this pointing," Rosen ex-
plains. "The student has
therefore to learn to imitate
the reading process of the
adult Israeli, who identifies
his words not only by their
characters, but by clues pro-
vided either in them (`pat-
tern clue s') or by some
other word in the sentence
which conditions the syntactic
function of the word scrutin-
ized for its reading (`syntac-
tic clues') . . . The student
learns to produce a Hebrew
form correctly by its posi-
tion in the. , utterance: the



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written word is a reproduc-
tion of a phonetic reality."
Rosen's book presents "the
normalized and consistent spell-
ing authorized by the Hebrew
language Academy in 1947" but
in the literary sections "the
student is made acquainted with
deviating and less consistent
terms of orthography that are
still in current use."
Elimination of pointing in the
Hebrew language has been advo-
cated for some time as the best
method of teaching it, and Ros-
en's textbook is the most con-
vincing proof of the realism of
such an approach.
The cursive elements em-
ployed in Hebrew handwrit-
ing are elaborately outlined
in the initial chapter, "Ele-
ments of Speech and Their
Representation in Writing."
Simple Hebrew sentences are
explained and the glossaries ap-
pended to all chapters enrich
the knowledge of the language
and provide comprehensive ma-
terial for an acquaintance with
The practicality of Rosen's
teaching method becomes ap-
parent in the earliest stages of
his method. He begins with the
simplest terms and at once
commences to make sentences.
Before he had gone too far,
he introduces conversations —
at home, in the street, in stores.
Then the student begins to
learn letter-writing. The teach-
ing method begins first with a
letter in Hebrew, followed by
the text of an English letter
that the student is required to
translate into Hebrew.
Grammatical explanations are
interspersed in English and the
illustrative complete sentences
supplement the teaching
All conceivable terms are
resorted to. The historical,
geographical, industrial and
other usages are made use
of. At the same time, while
adhering to the modern Is-
raeli usages of eliminating
the pointing, sections in the
book are devoted to "the bib-
lical text" and to explanations
of the "Tiberian system of
pointing." Thus, characteris-
tic Biblical Hebrew is taught,-
although the emphasis in the
major portion of the book is
on the Israeli language sys-
Through the methods used,
the students are introduced to
Israel's noted authors, to poets
and novelists.
Rosen's "Textbook of Israeli
Hebrew" is a distinct contribu-
tion to the efforts to encourage
the study of the language by
English-speaking Jews.

translator of Spinoza's Hebrew
grammar that "Spinoza's first
publisher, shortly after his
death in 1677, tells us that the
author's intention was to write
a Hebrew grammar in accord-
ance with the rules of geome-
try .. . It was his aim to show
the main rules of the Hebrew
language . . ."
Dr. Bloom refers to Spinoza's
"The ologico-Political Treatise"
to show that he "determined
to examine the Bible in a care-
ful, impartial and unfettered
spirit." Asserting that Sponoza
was "really the father of mod-
ern Biblical criticism," Rabbi
Bloom quotes the philosopher's
opinion that "every word in the
Hebrew language, except for
some prepositions, conjunctions
and interjections, has the power
and essence of a noun."
It is Dr. Bloom's contention
that Spinoza foresaw the emerg-
ence of a Jewish State and the
revival of Hebrew as a spoken
language and that he believed
the Torah would become valid
again through Jewish statehood..
Spinoza's "Hebrew Grammar"
as it appears in the new trans-
lation covers the entire scope
of Hebrew language rules, offer-
ing as explanations hundreds of
Hebrew terms which appear in
this text in the original Hebrew.
After listing and explaining
the alphabet, Spinoza explained
the vowels in general, the vari-
ous rules applied to nouns, pro-
nouns and verbs; conjugations,
defective verbs, deponent verbs
and the nominative principle.
It ends there, with a portion of
the original compendium miss-

Four Major American Life
Insurance Companies Finance
Immigrant Housing in Israel
Four major American Life
Insurance Companies have sign-
ed an agreement with the Jew-
ish Agency for Israel, Inc.,
which will facilitate the con-
struction of homes for over
8,000 immigrants expected to
arrive in Israel in 1963. The
four participating companies
are: Penn Mutual Life Insur-
ance Co. of Philadelphia, Massa-
chusetts Mutual Life Insurance
Co. of Springfield, Mass., State
Mutual Life Assurance Co. of
America, Worcester, Mass., and
Phoenix Mutual Life Insurance
Co., Hartford, Conn.
On the strength of this agree-
ment, United Associates, Inc., a
new corporation formed by
Jack D. Weiler and Benjamin
H. Swig, will finance the con-
struction of 2,000 immigrant
housing units throughout Israel
ranging from Safad in the North
Spinoza's Hebrew Grammar to Ashdot in the South. United
in an English Translation Associates will invest $10 mil-
Towards the end of his brief lion in the financing of these
life, "Out of his love for and units.
appreciation of the Hebrew
The baby hippopotamus
language, and also to demon-
strate to his friends and disci- weighs about 100 pounds at
ples the beauty and majesty of birth and can swim before it
this language and its superiority can walk.
over other tongues," Baruch
Spinoza began to write his
"Compendium Grammatices Lin-
guae Hebraeae."
The story back of this work
is revealed in "Hebrew Gram-
mar" by Spinoza, in its English
text, edited and translated by
Rabbi Maurice J. Bloom, pub-
lished by Philosophical Library
(15 E. 40th, NY16).
In his introduction, Dr.
Bloom tells about the appear-
ance of Spinoza's best Latin
edition of–his Short Hebrew
Grammar at The Hague in
1883, and quotes from an "Ad-
monition to the Reader"
which stated that "the author
undertook to write at the re-
quest of certain of his friends
who were diligently studying
the Sacred Tongue, inasmuch
as they recognized him right-
ly as one who had been
steeped in it from his earliest
youth . . ."
We also are informed by the


Colorado House Votes Down Sunday Blue Law

DENVER, (JTA) — A pro-
posed state blue law that would
have banned nearly all retail
sales in Colorado on Sundays
was defeated overwhelmingly
in a committee of the State
House of Representatives here
after many sections of the
population, including lab o r,
Jewish and Seventh Day Ad-
ventist organizations, had op-
posed the bill.
The opponents of the draft
measure, including many who
were against it on grounds of
religious observance of Satur-
day as the Sabbath, turned out
en masse to protest against the
bill before the House Business
Affairs Committee.
The committee voted 7-0 to
table the proposal indefinitely;
two members of the nine-man

committee abstaining. The ef-
fect of the proposed measure
would have been to close down
virtually all businesses on Sun-
days, regardless of whether the
owners kept their stores closed
on Saturday.




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