YOUR HOST JUST FINISHED his first semester studying Hebrew with Citizen Cafe Tel Aviv. I wanted to take a moment (ie, a Blog Post) to endorse, recommend, and otherwise invite. Citizen Cafe promises to get you to fluency in local, spoken Hebrew. They do not focus on reading or writing (at least in the early levels – I know in advanced classes they do read papers and stories). One semester is NOT enough, of course, but I feel a lot more fluent that I did 4 months ago.
The goal is to free the Hebrew in your head so that you have the courage to speak it. They use a very rapid-fire conversational technique combined with pop culture references. (Earlier, I posted a playlist of songs from class.) Some things that did not happen in my earlier Hebrew classes (or other language classes, for that matter): learning slang, learning to “listen fast” – hearing conversation and singing without having to say, “slow down…” – and learning to argue!
Why? You may ask.
When I studied Modern Hebrew at NYU – after failing other languages – I took to Hebrew rather well. It’s still the only other language that comes up in my dreams. What I said during the intake interview was that 35 years later (after NYU) I have a lot of Hebrew floating around in my brain. I wanted it to find a home. Citizen Cafe has helped a lot! Again, #NotAnAd (I get no referral credits here… this is just a love letter.)
Although I can recite prayers in Latin and, sometimes, in Irish and (briefly) in Welsh, I can actually pray in Hebrew. By that I mean I can put enough of my conscious mind forward in the words I’m saying to leave my deeper mind free for contemplation. Mind you, this is for words that I know, of course. However, my ability to read prayers out of the sidur or out of the scriptures has also improved.
Additionally, I’ve been writing my own spiritual texts, but I don’t know if they hold up grammatically.
שוע, קח הכל. כל מה ששלך רומם. כל מה שלא שלך האבד. כל מה שחסר יושלם בך.
Jesus, take it all: All that is yours, exalt. All that is not yours, destroy. Everything that is lacking will be completed in you.
The last line is from a song by Shilo Ben Hod. The first line too, although that’s a more common line in many worship songs and meditations from the saints. The whole prayer began meditating on that last line. I say it at communion time and any other time when we need to make an offering of what we are doing.
Anyway, I had so much fun in this semester’s Hebrew class that I signed up again for next semester. And I am happy to suggest others should try Citizen Cafe Tel Aviv. You may not be lucky enough to get my teacher, Lior, who is quite perfect, but they have a LOT of teachers. Anyone you get will be awesome!
I’ve moved up from Orange to Pink. Can you help me buy a copy of שר הטבעות (Lord of the Rings)?
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