Gender, Hebrew Language Acquisition and Religious Values in Jewish High Schools in North America

  • Debra Cohen
  • Nancy Berkowitz

Abstract

The present study examines gender differences in Hebrew language performance, and attitudes towards learning Hebrew in different groups within the North American Jewish community. The chosen groups differ in their religious affiliation (non-Orthodox vs. Orthodox) and gender class composition (co-ed vs. segregated). These groups range from the non-Orthodox groups, which see gender equality as a central modern-Jewish value (Fishman, 2000), to certain Orthodox groups which see gender inequality as a Jewish traditional value that should be preserved. Segregated education usually indicates agreement with the latter. We found a significantly wider gap in language performance, learning goals and attitudes between boys and girls, in favour of the girls, in the Orthodox/segregated group than in the other two groups (non-Orthodox and Orthodox/co-ed). This finding supports the poststructuralist approaches which view gender as a social, historical and cultural construct that mediates between culture and language behaviour (Gal, 1991; Piller and Pavlenko, 2001). We also showed that learning goals of the learner play a central role as mediators between gender and language behaviour.

Keywords

Covariance Carol 

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Copyright information

© Debra Cohen and Nancy Berkowitz 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Debra Cohen
  • Nancy Berkowitz

There are no affiliations available

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