Marnina Cowan '06, Middle School Hebrew Teacher, has been surrounded by languages her whole life. Her parents were invited to a Shabbat Dinner with couples from all over the world while in Europe when she was baby. The only language that everyone had in common was Hebrew...except for them. One of the reasons why they sent Marnina to CESJDS was they wanted her to have the ability to communicate with Jews anywhere in the world through a shared language. Her parents enrolled her in Ulpan (beginner Hebrew) at the age of 4 and the rest is history.
Her love for Hebrew shone through in an a-ha moment when she was in 11th grade. A 13 year-old Haredi girl was coming from Israel to NIH for a kidney transplant and needed a translator. Marnina sat daily with the girl using Hebrew to break down barriers between her and her doctors and to facilitate her recovery process by talking and playing games. Her experience left her with a renewed understanding that language is a tool that connects individuals and, when used appropriately, can function as a vehicle for change.
She attended Brandeis University and pursued a Bachelor's in Hebrew and International Global Studies. Marnina studied under the founder of Hebrew at the Center (the curriculum that CESJDS uses!), Vardit Ringvald. She also studied Arabic, with the hopes of one day being a peace builder on both sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Marnina also holds a Master's in Public Health.
Prior to coming to CESJDS, she worked for a non-profit that translated Middle East Media to Hebrew and English for distribution, as well as another non-profit working on a global tuberculosis project. Marnina decided she wanted to make teaching Hebrew a full-time gig, work within a team, and shape students. "My goal is to share my passion for Israel and Hebrew, and make learning meaningful for students," she said.
Marnina is an avid Israel dancer and is involved in running two local teen Israeli dance troupes, enjoys spending time with her family, cooking and scrapbooking.
She finds it very rewarding to be teaching at the school where she grew up. "It is a different way to connect with the students. CESJDS has shaped who I am today. I want to help give back to the school which has given me so much."