Hebrew in the Sunshine: Language at American Jewish Summer Camps
At most American Jewish summer camps, programs are conducted primarily in English, but the environment is infused with Hebrew signs, songs, and cheers. Hebrew-English sentences are common: “Madrichim [counselors], please bring your chanichim [campers] to the teatron [theater] immediately after Birkat Hamazon [Grace After Meals].” Why do some camps infuse Hebrew in these unusual ways? How are other languages used, including Russian, Yiddish, and Ladino? How do participants feel about this language mixing? This talk draws from Dr. Benor’s current book project focusing on Hebrew use at North American Jewish Summer Camps, based on over 200 interviews and visits to 36 camps.
Sarah Bunin Benor is Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (Los Angeles campus). She is the author of Becoming Frum: How Newcomers Learn the Language and Culture of Orthodox Judaism, as well as many articles about Jewish languages and American Jews. She has created several websites, including the Jewish English Lexicon and “I Waited 96 Years!”