Growing From Our Roots
By Josh Altshuler, ISJL Education Fellow
As Jewish educators, we are tasked with translating the beauty of the Hebrew language for the next generation. This can feel like a daunting challenge when children perceive only a cluster of letters and symbols in their siddurim (prayer books) and classroom handouts. It is time to get back to the basics! Students may discover new value in Hebrew class when they learn about the secrets lurking in their favorite Hebrew words. Most Hebrew nouns and verbs can be reduced to shoreshim—three-root consonant letters. These letters convey specific meanings when put together and form words with the addition of prefixes and suffixes. Shoreshim are the friend of any Hebrew enthusiast because knowing roots helps students deduce an unfamiliar word’s meaning as they peruse a sentence or prayer. Beyond learning language more efficiently, shoreshim reveal some intriguing connections between words people express every day. Take a look at some of the ISJL’s favorite roots listed below. Hopefully, these parts of speech are fascinating and provide some insight into how Hebrew can become an opportunity for code-breaking!
If you would like to know about how new Hebrew words get decided, consider visiting the website of The Academy of Hebrew Language.