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To learn Hebrew, just have fun

November 24, 2016 22:56

My column this week is on my ongoing attempts to get my kids to speak Hebrew, and on my summer holiday in Israel:

Parallel universes exist mostly in the realm of science fiction. But this summer, I was privileged to enter my own alternative reality. For four weeks, I got to see a life I could have lived but don't, a child I could have had, but don't. I got as close as I will probably ever get to bringing up Israeli children.

It all began about a year ago, when I became determined to teach my two daughters Hebrew. This was, admittedly, partially about me - I grew up in Israel and speak the language fluently, and cannot imagine my children not sharing something so integral to my identity. But it was, far more so, about what I desire for them.

Hebrew is the key to Jewish texts and liturgy, and I do not want my children to be able to tackle them only one step removed, in translation.

I also want them to be able to talk to their Israeli cousins; and to forge a connection to the Israeli state, its culture and its people. While good Hebrew is not a prerequisite for a strong bond with Israel, surely those who overcome the language barrier can understand Israeli society far more deeply, and navigate it with greater ease.

At first, I concentrated on speaking Hebrew at home, but while my four-year-old seemed to understand most of what I was saying, she was always more comfortable answering me in English. Gradually, I hatched a plan. We were going to enrol her in a summer camp in Jerusalem, where she would be immersed in the Hebrew language, be exposed to vocabulary I would never give her, and mix with Israeli children.

Read the rest here, and come back here to comment...

November 24, 2016 22:56

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