Friday, July 5, 2013

Hebrew Fun!

I survived finals week! Yes, we have finals week in Jerusalem :(  Spring term ended, and so did most of our classes! Now we will have a lot more free time to sightsee. We just have two classes instead of five. So this week wasn’t very exciting, but I do have some things to catch up on and write about.

I’ve had two Hebrew classes here. I took four semesters of Hebrew at BYU, and then last year I lived in the Hebrew House (BYU foreign language housing) for a semester, and took a Hebrew class at UWM. Learning Hebrew has been a random 3 year hobby that I’ve really enjoyed.

Usually the BYU Jerusalem Center only offers a beginning Hebrew class, but last year they announced that they would be offering a special intensive Hebrew program for summer 2013. I immediately went to my advisement center and asked for permission to delay my graduation so I could do it. They agreed, and here I am! It’s been such a great opportunity to study Hebrew in Israel! The Jerusalem Center hasn’t offered an intensive Hebrew program for 15 years, so I’m lucky to have gotten to do it.

Only 6 people (out of the 76 students here) are doing the Hebrew program. One of our Hebrew classes was an Israeli/Jewish civilization class. We learned about Jewish religion, history, and some political things. Everyone else took the same class, but in English. Ours was taught entirely in Hebrew!

Our other Hebrew class was a conversation class. Something fun we got to do for this class was go on three little field trips around the city. Much more fun than sitting in a classroom for two hours! 

Field trip #1 started out with a tour of some old neighborhoods in West Jerusalem. Then we went to the shuk (outdoor market) with a list of questions to ask people in Hebrew. That was scary, but people were actually pretty nice and patient with us. It’s exciting to actually have Hebrew conversations with Israelis.

Field trip #2 I actually have pictures from. Our professor called it “a trip around the world.” In the late 1800s a lot of different countries built churches and other buildings in Jerusalem. First we went to “Russia”:

This is the hotel where wealthy Russian tourists/pilgrims stayed.


And right across the street is a Russian church and the hostel where poorer Russians stayed (the entrance to the hostel is the arch/gate on the right).


Here’s “Italy”!  This is a hospital/church that’s a replica of a building in Siena (where Jenna’s living next year!).


Fun fact...this building is right across the plaza from the Israeli Ministry of Education building. My friend took a picture of it, and then a security guard rushed over and made her delete the picture. So no pictures of that building! Our Hebrew teacher said that security usually isn't that tight, so I like to think that Netanyahu was hanging out there or something :)

And the most exotic...here’s “Ethiopia.”


It’s an interesting church! Check out the Ethiopian writing in the top left picture.

Right across the street from the Ethiopian church is a historic Hebrew location. For a long time, Hebrew was a semi-dead language. It was still used by Jews, but only in a religious context (prayers, etc.) and not in an every-day context. A man named Eliezer ben Yehuda was one of the main people responsible for bringing back Hebrew as the language of the Jews. He devoted his life to promoting speaking Hebrew and making some changes to it so that it could be a modern language. I’ve heard the quote “Before ben Yehuda, Jews could speak Hebrew. After ben Yehuda, they did.” 

Well, here’s his house! I must have been REALLY excited to be there, because I have a weird look on my face.



Another exciting thing we saw was the entrance to Mea Shearim, an ultra-orthodox neighborhood. Worldwide, the percentage of ultra-orthodox Jews is very low. However, Jerusalem is a very religious city and there are a fair amount of ultra-Orthodox here. Basically, a lot of things about ultra-Orthodox Judaism haven’t changed since 18th century Poland. At the entrance to the neighborhood are these signs asking everyone to dress modestly that comes into the area.




The rules for women are: high neckline, long sleeves, floor-length skirt, and nothing form-fitting.  Men also always wear long sleeves and long pants, and keep their heads covered. Men’s clothes are always just plain black and white, and they have sidecurls.

I’m kind of curious to walk around the neighborhood, but I’ve heard they’re not always super friendly to visitors, especially if you’re not conforming to their modesty standards.

Field trip #3 was this week, and it was a trip to Jerusalem’s zoo! 

Here's me hanging out at the zoo with some lovely green water. But I love the trees!! You don't see too many of those around here.


We had our final exam there. Everyone had to give a 10 minute presentation in Hebrew about one of the animals. Jerusalem’s zoo is biblical themed (of course), so most of the animals there are found in the Bible. In our presentations we had to talk about how the animal was mentioned in the Bible. I did my presentation about lions. If anyone would like to hear the story of Daniel and the lion’s den in Hebrew, I can now officially do that for you. Because everyone wants to hear that, right?

I also talked about how the lion is the symbol of Jerusalem, so you can find lions all over the city. Example...this one that I sat on a few days later.



Even though it was our final exam, it was a pretty fun, stress-free day. Here’s our class in front of Noah’s Ark.



And I figured a post about the zoo wouldn't be complete without at least one picture of an animal :)




I really loved my Hebrew classes here! I’m excited to have more free time and spend less hours in class, but I’m kind of sad they’re over. It was great to have tours of West Jerusalem in Hebrew.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting! I hope you get the chance to put on your floor length skirt and walk around this part of town with your buddies from Hebrew! You guys totally should; where else would you have the chance?

    ReplyDelete