Sarah Bunin Benor, Jonathan Krasner, and Sharon Avni

Sep 2, 2021

Hebrew Infusion

Language and Community at American Jewish Summer Camps

Rutgers University Press 2020

Each summer, tens of thousands of American Jews attend residential camps, where they may see Hebrew signs, sing and dance to Hebrew songs, and hear a camp-specific hybrid language register called Camp Hebraized English, as in: “Let’s hear some ruach (spirit) in this chadar ochel (dining hall)!” Using historical and sociolinguistic methods, Hebrew Infusion: Language and Community at American Jewish Summer Camps, by Sarah Bunin Benor, Jonathan Krasner, and Sharon Avni (Rutgers University Press, 2020), explains how camp directors and staff came to infuse Hebrew in creative ways and how their rationales and practices have evolved from the early 20th century to today.

Some Jewish leaders worry that Camp Hebraized English impedes Hebrew acquisition, while others recognize its power to strengthen campers’ bonds with Israel, Judaism, and the Jewish people. Hebrew Infusion explores these conflicting ideologies, showing how hybrid language can serve a formative role in fostering religious, diasporic communities. The insightful analysis and engaging descriptions of camp life will appeal to anyone interested in language, education, or American Jewish culture.

Interviewees:

Sarah Bunin Benor is Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies at Hebrew Union College and courtesy Professor of Linguistics at the University of Southern California.

Jonathan Krasner is the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Associate Professor of Jewish Education Research at Brandeis University.

Sharon Avni is Professor of Literacy and Linguistics at Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York, and a Research Associate at the Research Institute for the Study of Language in Urban Society at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Host: Schneur Zalman Newfield is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York, and the author of Degrees of Separation: Identity Formation While Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Judaism (Temple University Press, 2020). Visit him online at ZalmanNewfield.com.

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Zalman Newfield

Schneur Zalman Newfield is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Jewish Studies at Hunter College, City University of New York, and the author of Degrees of Separation: Identity Formation While Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Judaism (Temple University Press).

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