Last year, I blogged about some HUGE changes in my life regarding schooling. I had applied to the “regular” university at TAU, which meant I would be a Hebrew student instead of an overseas English one…. and I WAS ACCEPTED! While I am still at the same school and still studying, it means big changes for me.
For one, all my classes will now be taught in Hebrew, not in English. My language classes have always been taught in Hebrew and Arabic, but the core classes were in English.
Secondly, I will no longer be studying History, as I was before; I will be studying Arabic Literature. I really am excited about this change, but it also means A LOT more dedication and studying for me. This semester alone I have 10 hours of Arabic and 6 of Hebrew, purely language classes. YIKES!
I haven’t been blogging as regularly as I used to, and I fear that with my new courses it might only become more sporadic… but please know that I’m not abandoning it all together.
I’m feeling so many emotions about this whole thing: excited, scared, nervous, hopeful, overwhelmed that I just can’t seem to muster up a post.
I hope I will still have some readers during this process, and just know that I am continually reading your blogs… even if I’m not writing my own. Thanks for sticking with me, all my blogging friends! ❤❤
If you haven’t heard yet, I’ve started learning Arabic this past week. I am now able to write all the letters (all millions of them) and we are starting to form words and sentences now. I honestly thought Hebrew was difficult, but it seems to be a piece of cake compared to this crazy language. The beauty of it though, is that they have many similarities, and knowing Hebrew first has helped me tremendously.
Anyways, today at Food Distribution, our little translator came to help out so I was showing her my Arabic workbook and what I was learning. It was then that I discovered she does not know how to read or write in Arabic, only Hebrew.
Arabic is her mother tongue… her first language…. the one she speaks with her family; YET, she does not know how to read or write. She reads/writes only Hebrew. And this is true for many of the Sudanese we work with.
It made me think.
Therefore, I decided that a part of the after school program at the youth center will be dedicated to teach these kids how to read and write their own language.
Imagine a foreign American… teaching written Arabic to kids who speak it fluently… in a country that none of us belong to… in Hebrew.
Now if that isn’t just crazy awesome, then I don’t know what is!!!
This week in Hebrew class we started reading Agadot (אגדות). An agada is a fairy tale or legend. Depending on how it is used, it can also be a folk tale or a fable. Today we read about Andromeda from Greek Mythology, which just happens to take places in Jaffa. (go figure!)
During the rest of the week, each student has to choose an agada and tell the story to the rest of the class IN HEBREW! It’s our first oral presentation, and I’m a bit nervous about it. Mine is on Thursday, so at least I have a few days to prepare.
I’ve decided to tell an African Folk Tale about ‘Why Cheetah’s Cheeks Are Stained’. Before I left Africa I bought a book of African Folk Tales relating to all the animals in the bush. This story is by far my most favorite of them all (not to mention the cheetah is my favorite cat as well). So, now I need to go practice, practice, practice…..
Did you know that the word “Amen” is Hebrew? It comes from the verb, leha’meen (להאמין), which means “to believe“. If you notice the three letters of Amen, (אמן) come at the end of the verb form of ‘to believe’. This is how Hebrew is…every word and its meaning is connected to the root word. In this case, amen is connected to the meaning of “to believe”, because you are literally saying at the end of the prayer “I believe all that was said.”
How many times have you said Amen after a prayer or hearing someone else pray, just because its “what you say at the end”? Do you realize that you are actually stating the fact that you believe or agree with all that has been said?
I think amen has become such a “habit” word, we don’t even consider what we are saying. We blurt it out so we can hurry on with our meal. We say it because everyone else is in the congregation is.
Next time you say “amen“, make sure you really believe in what you are “amening” to. Remember what you’re agreeing with before you “amen” it. And don’t forget….
You’re Speaking Hebrew!!!!
The blending of two foreign words to form a Hebrew one, thats the charm of external cultural influence here.
There is a channel on TV called Yesababa. It is like the Family Channel in the states, playing kids shows and family movies etc. but all in Hebrew. On all the movie channels, all the films are still in English, but with Hebrew subtitles. I discovered this channel not too long ago, and I really like it. For one, its all in Hebrew: forcing me to listen and pay more attention; and for another: its just good stuff on there.
So where does Yesababa come from? Yes is obviously an English word, and also happens to be the name of the Cable Company that runs the TV shows here. Sababa is an imported word from Arabic, meaning cool, awesome, its all good, type thing. Its become so popular in Israel, that most don’t even know its not a Hebrew word.
Blend the two words together and you have Yesababa…the cool TV channel that your whole family can enjoy! (and me too!)
My Ulpan Book
You might have heard me mention going to Ulpan in other segments, so today I am going to explain what it is. Ulpan is the educational center where you go to learn Hebrew. Just like in regular schools, there are levels in which you learn. Since I was a total beginner, I started of in kita aleph (like a Kindergarten class). I didn’t know how to read, write, speak, or even recognize the letters so we started off at the very beginning. My class is Monday-Wednesdays, 8:am-1:pm…5 hours of intensity and brain drainage.
Ulpans are pretty unique to Israel in that they are the only institutions that offer Hebrew lessons. It is the hub of foreigners, especially new immigrants just making citizenship. The government actually pays for new immigrants to take Ulpan classes, in promoting the Hebrew language. In my class alone we are represented by many different countries: Russia, Germany, Bulgaria, Hungary, Japan, Italy, France, The US, Brazil, and I’m sure I’m missing a couple (but you get the point.)
One things I’ve loved about learning at Ulpan, along with the actual Hebrew language, has been the cultural aspects. My teacher is so awesome in making sure we learn about every Jewish holiday that comes along, and Jewish traditions as well. She incorporates the history of the Jewish people (from the Torah) to the history of Israel. We learn about different places within Israel and where to go and what to see. We have learned songs that Jewish children learn growing up, and even had computer lessons to learn the keyboard. Overall, its been such a great tool for me.
I say this because this week is my last week of Ulpan! I debated on whether to go on to the next level or not, but in the end I realized that I have all the tools I need….I just have to go out and start using them (aka: speaking in Hebrew) I will miss going to Ulpan and especially my teacher (the best Ulpan teacher in the world!!!). I have met some great people in my class and it will be weird not seeing them every week. I owe a lot to my experience at Ulpan, and now I can officially say that I can read, write, and speak in Hebrew….and it can only get better!
I was so excited yesterday when I came across a book store selling all its books for 15 shekels (about $3.50 US). I decided to get a couple to start practicing my Hebrew reading, and at this stage the best way to do that is with children’s books. There were so many good ones, but I had to choose only 2 (I am on a budget!)
When I found a Curious George book with a collection of stories inside, I knew that would have to be one of them. Then I found an African story about a group of children who go out into the bush to count animals….that was choice number 2.
Last night I (slowly) read through the African Safari book, with help from Dudu. It was a bit painful at times, sometimes having to sound out words letter by letter like a child, but I managed to read it and understand it all! This is a huge accomplishment for me, considering just a few months ago I didn’t even know any Hebrew letters. I am so proud of my new books, that I must also share them with you as well. Take a look….
This morning I attended a church here in Nicosia. The service was all in Greek of course, but luckily I had a translator (thanks, Penny!). As we sang some hymns, I thought about how many different services I have attended all over and in how many different languages. It was a pretty cool thought, one that made me want to learn Greek so bad. I know I am focusing on Hebrew right now, but every time I go somewhere with a new language I always wish I spoke that one as well. I can’t fathom how easy communication must have been pre-Babel times. But from someone who loves languages I often think…now where is the challenge in that?!?
One language??? Come on! I guess God knew what He was doing, if nothing other than stimulating the brains of people like me 🙂
I’m back in the world of not understanding. I had forgotten what it was like, not to be able to understand the language until now. Its funny how when I think of my time in Brazil, it seems like I just always knew portuguese; but that was NOT the case. When I first moved there, I couldn’t understand or speak the language at all. I had forgotten all about the zoning out, the translating, the ‘what did they just say?’ moments. But, it all came flooding back to me this morning when I attended congregation.
I had absolutely NO idea what he was saying, except for a few words here and there. I sat there wishing I was a computer with a download button to press, and Hebrew would just filter into my mind. Within seconds I could speak, read, and write…what a feature that would be. But, alas…I’m not a computer, so I must patiently learn until the day comes when I’m fluent once again. Boy, I wish that day was today!