Lowell High cancels Hebrew class

After 40 years as the only class of its kind at a public Northern California high school, the Hebrew class at Lowell High School in San Francisco will be phased out as a foreign language elective. The program will fold at the end of the 2015-16 academic year, according to a parent of one of the students.

For many years, the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund provided most of the funding for the class, but with that fund’s closure in 2012, parents and supporters scrambled to raise the $35,000 it took to run the program annually.

When the 2014-15 school year drew to a close last week, it became clear that the financial support to sustain the class did not exist.

 

Batia Horsky teaching Hebrew at Lowell High School photo/sam lauter

On Facebook, Hebrew teacher Batia Horsky thanked students and donors who supported the program during her tenure, but lamented that it “will come to an end due to lack of funding. It is not an easy time for Jewish students in colleges around the country and for non-Jewish students who support the State of Israel. At this crucial time I was hoping the Hebrew program would be funded and supported.”

 

Sam Lauter, whose daughter, Aliza Lauter, has studied Hebrew at Lowell for two years, led the charge to raise funds for the class and is disappointed it will end. “It’s unfortunate that it’s going to be gone,” he said, “and people are not responding to it.”

Samuel Rothmann, 22, made aliyah to Israel earlier this year after graduating from U.C. Davis last June. But he credits his years studying Hebrew at Lowell for spurring his interest in Israel and inspiring him to move there.

He said it’s a shame that future Lowell students will no longer have the chance to learn the Hebrew language.

“Having the opportunity to study Hebrew at Lowell was without a doubt a turning point in my Jewish identity,” Rothmann said by email. “Not only did I gain a strong base in reading, writing and speaking Hebrew, but I also made lifelong friends. I consider [Horsky] to be a personal friend to this day.”

According to the Lowell student newspaper, the Hebrew 1 class will no longer be offered to freshmen, but students currently taking Hebrew will be able to continue their studies for one more year. Horsky has taught Hebrew at Lowell for eight years, the article noted.

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is J.'s news editor. He can be reached at dan@jweekly.com.