The "Kinesthetic Kriah", "Reading by Feeling" Program


Efforts to teach Hebrew Reading seem to result in part of the student population experiencing failure or difficulty. Elementary grades in schools consistently report poor readers or non-readers, year after year, irrespective of the school's chosen reading curriculum or program. These ‘problem’ readers become the "challenged learners" in the succeeding grades.

As Rabbi Kaplan, the Director of the Chinuch Office, has expressed, the fact is that Kriah is a continuously challenging issue for our mosdos. It is clear that  a growing percent of our children do not acquire the skills they need in the first grade but even more importantly, huge numbers of children do not master the skills enough so that by 3rd grade many do not read properly....

Yehuda Heidingsfeld has been successfully involved in the teaching of Jewish children for over 40 years. He has been a classroom and special education teacher in elementary schools spanning all grades from pre-1A to grade 6. His interest and determination to help every child succeed in mastering Hebrew reading , so that they can keep up with the class academic level, led him to undertake further tertiary studies and courses and then adapt those recognized, successful research based  programs to the reading of Hebrew. He then implemented his research to help children with mild learning disabilities such as, dyslexia and even those severely disadvantaged such as, deaf, autistic and Down syndrome, to achieve this goal.

Evidence had emerged to show that those children who have incompletely developed Auditory Discrimination function, which is the ability to identify and compare the sequence of sounds within words, had greater problems with reading and spelling.

It was often thought that these children were not trying or were not motivated when they would add, omit, substitute or reverse sounds or letters when reading or spelling. Using English words as the examples, they might have "steam" for stream, "litter" for letter, "saw" for was, "grill" for girl. Since they could not judge the sequence of the sounds, they could not differenciate whether what they say matches what they see.

If you are wondering about a particular child, who has regularly exhibited such mistakes, whether they fall into this category, a simple test is to ask them to repeat slowly a word such as SPLASH. Then ask the child to tell you all the different sounds that make up this word. SPLASH is actually made up of 5 different sounds. In effect this means that you have to move your mouth 5 different ways, S-P-L-A-SH.

In our Kinesthetic Kriah program, the solution to the problem in differentiating sounds within words, is conscious input to the brain from another sense modality, that of feeling. This input gives the sounds an additional dimension from the action of tongue, lips and mouth in producing the speech sounds and is also accompanied with specific hand motions. Each simple movement of the hand, which includes the method in which the fingers are moved, the amount of fingers used, the shape of the hand, represents one sound. The children find the program easy and fun to learn and apply. 

Through a process of self-discovery, students explore the physical movements that are involved in producing sounds, learning to hear, see and feel the physical characteristics. The integration of the auditory, visual, and kinesthetic feedback enables children or adults to verify sounds within words and to become self-correcting readers and spellers. The "Kinesthetic Kriah", "Reading by Feeling" program does not intend to replace existing Hebrew reading and spelling programs. Rather we see it as a highly necessary and successful supplement which can be used in conjunction with any published reading curriculum and materials. 

The Basic program teaches the students how to feel and read all the Hebrew vowels and letters. Each lesson is supplemented with specific exercises to review and consolidate the material covered as well as guidance on how to allocate the points that accumulate to earn prizes. The usual duration for this Basic program is between 10 - 12 weeks.

When auditory discrimination stimulation is made available to students in the elementary schools, as an introductory or accompanying component, it accelerates the reading development of the whole class and helps prevent disabilities. The ultimate goal, where the whole class consists of fluent readers, is no longer a dream, but has become a reality.

Teachers who have had the program successfully implemented in their classrooms have also reported additional benefits in much easier classroom management, less time wasted on disciplinary actions, more cohesive unity and higher self-esteem among the students, greater flexibility when incorporating team games and enthusiastic responses when it was time to switch activity to the text based learning segments.


"Our son had such a difficult time learning to read Hebrew. Reading was a daily struggle which was usually met with frustration for my son as well as for us. Rabbi Heidingsfeld's reading program and learning techniques taught my son how to read fluently and with confidence. What a success story for us!" S L (mother of student in Jewish Day School, Los Angeles.)

  "...The whole program was worth it just for S. I never thought that he would ever learn to read...." (C B. Jewish Studies Teacher, Los Angeles)

"....The techniques he employed were highly effective. He provided strategies which gave the students a visual and kinesthetic understanding of what they needed to accomplish as well as building their self-esteem through their progressive recorded achievements ....The Judaic teachers referred students with various Reading needs.  The students were excited about the program, looked forward to their weekly sessions and showed great improvement as noted by the feedback of the classroom teachers. ...." (LF Jewish Studies Director, San Diego)  

For more information on how you can access the program, visit us at