First Hebrew Lesson

10 Feb

Hebrew Typewriter

I finally had my first Hebrew lesson today. I say “finally” because I’ve been trying to get into a class since our arrival 2 months ago. Both the embassy and IWC offer free Hebrew lessons but neither organization had beginner’s lessons available until this week. And both fell on the same day. I chose to go to the embassy-sponsored class as it is held in my neighborhood, Herzliya Pituach. As a matter of fact it is held at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence because his wife is interested in taking the class.

I hadn’t realized it at the time, but I had walked near the Ambassador’s residence not too long ago when Brad and I discovered Shmuel Tamir Garden one day while exploring the neighborhood. A very nice section of a very nice neighborhood, indeed. My friend LS and I arrived at the gate of the Ambassador’s residence a few minutes late for the class. But no matter, we met RG at the gate who was waiting for permission to enter. The guards told us the dog was loose in the yard and needed to be rounded up before we could enter. As we waited, the instructor pulled up in a classic 70s American car. How strange to see it on the streets of Herzliya.

Shortly we were all escorted into the residence. Our coats were taken by the footman (or was he the butler?) and we were shown into a room off the foyer. (I learned later the footman/butler is named Tito.) Tito brought us tea, and plates of yummy cookies were placed on the table. We waited a few minutes for the ambassador’s wife, LC, to enter and then the lesson began. The instructor, PG, was an age 70-ish woman with a rather punkish-looking shock of graying hair, an infectious smile and a perpetual twinkle in her eyes.

PG passed out several handouts, one with the Hebrew alphabet on it and several others with Hebrew phrases on them transliterated to the English alphabet. I was disappointed that there was no discussion whatsoever of the Hebrew alphabet. We went over basic greetings such as hello, how are you, where do you live? and where are you from? as well as terms concerning the weather (as it was a dreadfully rainy day today). I found PG’s style of instruction to be haphazard and confusing, jumping from one topic to another, skimming over the grammar. Once again a totally unstructured language lesson. Oh, yes, and a pause while PG took a call on her cell phone.

I think we have homework, but I can’t say for sure. We have not yet decided on which day or which time we will meet again. And we were all given photocopies of various Hebrew instruction books for review. LC wants us all to get books but PG prefers to work with photocopied handouts. I will give this a try for awhile. I may also check out the lessons given by the IWC, but it may be worth my while to pay a professional for language classes.

PG left in a flurry with some story about needing to pick up her son. The rest of us remained for at least another half hour or so as the conversation ranged from politics and the situation in Egypt, to a local source for olive oil, to LC’s esteemed guest for dinner that evening — a noted Middle East scholar.

I give the lesson a grade of C- but the experience an A+.


4 Responses to “First Hebrew Lesson”

  1. 'Cenzo February 10, 2011 at 10:18 pm #


  2. 'Cenzo February 10, 2011 at 10:25 pm #


    • Lenora Genovese February 10, 2011 at 11:12 pm #

      oooh, I understood that even without google translate!

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