Thursday, October 11, 2007

Hebrew: the Aleph

The symbol to the left is the Aleph, the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet and it’s the most appropriate way I could think of to begin this entry. It’s been gnawing at me for a while now that I don’t speak Hebrew. I’m Jewish (although I don’t know whether I’m a believer) and I’m a Zionist, so I should speak the Jewish language. With that in mind I signed up for a beginner Hebrew class at the 92nd Street Y and last night I began my Hebrew Odyssey.

After the typical introductions the instructor, a young Israeli woman who speaks perfect English, started speaking in Hebrew. I now know first hand the frustration and turmoil my English students experienced last year in Chile. The only words I was able to make out were “Shalom” and “Ivrit” (Hebrew).

Learning this language promises to be much more challenging than Spanish. English and Spanish share a vast amount of words due to the huge influence Latin and French played on the English language’s development. Hebrew, on the other hand, has very little in common with English (or Spanish for that matter).

By the end of the session we had already learned a lot. Well, we learned a tiny bit, but it really felt like a lot. I’m looking forward to the homework.

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