Since 6 weeks I spend every Wednesday evening attending a long-distance online class to learn modern Hebrew. It is organized by the Rosen school of Hebrew and has a certificate from University of Jerusalem. Since it is based on the Ulpan curriculum, by which hundred thousands of European and Asian immigrants to Israel learned the language of their new home country, I thought it should be a good scheme. I always wanted to test if after learning Russian and English already at school and university (honestly, the last lessons for this I attended  ~ 30 years ago), I am still capable of learning a new language, and with Hebrew one that does not belong to the Indo-European familiy.

So I have to say that I do in fact some progress, and probably first time in life I am really doing my home work from week to week. Our teacher, Orli, who for the lessons is sitting conveniently in her apartment in Beer-Sheva in front of a PC with camera and an electronic black board, even considers me a swot or a nerd. I always get a lot of praises for my writing successes. In reading, however, I am worse, but this has to do with the peculiarity of Hebrew script, which is either in cursive (when you want to write) or in capital style, (when you want to print). Orli for some reason always tells us we should use cursive for writing, and capital only to read (????). I have not really understood what to do when I have a penfriend, a get a handwritten letter. How can I read the letter (in cursive), if I only learned to read capital letters. And both styles, capital and cursiv have hardly anything in common (see this collection of my lecture notes, in particular the last page).

Most of all, actually I like conversation with Orli or the other students. Some of them are from the US, one is from Brazil, two are from UK, one from Russia, two from France and so on. The language has a nice melodic sound, all of these

  • Erev Tov              Good Evening
  • Lehitraot            Good bye
  • Naim Meod        Nice to meet you
  • Ma Nishma        How are you
  • Mitzojan            Wonderful
  • Ani lomed Ivrit, ani gan lomed Muzika       I learn Hebrew, and I also learn music
  • At More ??        Are you a teacher
  • Lo, ani lot more. Ani talmid.                         No, I’m not a teacher. I’m a student.
  • Mi efo at ?        Where do you come from ?
  • Ani mí Germania. Ani gar be Munich.        I am from Germany, and I live in Munich.
  • Toda Raba         Thank you very much

And so on and so on.  In October I have to do a business trip to TelAviv and to Rehovot, to attend the official opening of a joint German-Israel science center. So I hope to make enough progress till then to impress our Israeli partners with some incidental phrases.

I wrote above that Orli, our teacher, is sitting conveniently in her apartment in Beer-Sheva, and unlike ordinary teachers she does not has to stand 45 minutes in overheated and dusty class-rooms. But yesterday, I suddenly felt really afraid for her safety. I don’t know why, but Orli had left the microphones of all the 12 students active during the entire lecture. So it was quite noisy for all of us. One could hear a dog barking (from Mottis place in England), a cat meowing (perhaps from Roja in LA), a little baby crying (must have been Victorias son or daughter in St Petersburg), police car horns perhaps from Rio through Sinvaldas microphone, and a telephone ringing (sounded like a French ringtone, Marsaillaise or something). But then suddenly some strange sounds started, at about 5:50 pm. It was like helicopters and fighter jets, and first I could not really make any sense out of it. Suddenly Orli, our teacher, said that she has to finish todays lesson earlier, because some emergencies are happen outside.

One hour later I switched on the TV news, and heared that another exchange of Gaza launched rockets hit the southern part of Israel, and was answered by IDF airstrikes that hit some Hamaz bases. From Beer-Sheva, it is only ~ 50 km to the Gaza strip. A rocket needs a few minutes from its launch site to hit a house in the city where our teacher lives. I don’t know if the home-made rockets by Hamas can fly as far. But the authorities in Beer-Sheva must have a reason to call the people to the underground shelters.