Friday 13 February 2015

Learning the Language of Home

I remember stepping in to Hebrew class for the very first time. "Hebrew?!!" the teacher bellowed out at me, "why ever would you want to learn such a difficult language?!!" I'm sure this is a great way of marketing your own language class. But I wide - eyed in terror at the very unorthodox teacher in front of me who was loud and all over the show, just sat down and opened my blank book. My journey to Hebrew had began a few months before and you can read all about it here I'm Going to Show You who You are

After learning about my Jewish heritage, I felt a deep God - desire to learn Modern Hebrew. My heart yearned for the land of Israel and for my own people. I initially wanted to learn the language so that one day when I visited Israel, I could show the people that I had made an effort to learn their language. So my journey begun and once a week I attended the most exciting and exhilirating Hebrew class ever! A few months in to the class, there were so many students that we were finally put in to separate rooms, when I walked out of my class I bumped in to a familiar face. A mom of one of the girls I had gone to school with. I recognised her beaming face, I had been at her home 4 years earlier when her husband passed away suddenly. I had seen her at a Passover celebration and a few of the Bible study meetings I had been to. We tarried outside of class and chatted and then we saw each other again the following week and the next and the next and the next. All the while as the weeks progressed and the work got harder, more and more students fell away until there were only a handful of us left. I could see the wind was knocked out of the sails of the teacher but he kept on going and kept on giving. And each week this lady and I would go out for coffee after class and we became really close, as in super good friends, Hebrew and the love of Israel connected us, deeply. 

Two years later, I stumbled on a leaflet advertising Biblical Hebrew. I had learned to read Biblical Hebrew in the synagogue I visited frequently, to learn more about having a Jewish heritage. But I still felt that God was leading me to this course. So my friend and I travelled 2 hours every Saturday to join a class for Biblical Hebrew. The class was packed and we had fun, the teacher was a professor - type who was a bit strange but one afternoon as I sat in the back of the class, I realised how far God had brought me. How far He had taken me from being a believer who loved Israel, to being a believer who was actually Jewish and was beginning to know and understand Hebrew and the rich hertiage her family had left behind. It was a very intense moment for me. God is full of surprises though because as the Biblical Hebrew course drew to an end, the teachers wife passed away after a long battle with cancer and he decided to take a trip to Israel. I stared wide - eyed again, at the leaflet and my heart yearned, it pulled to visit the land my family had inherited. That was 2006 and one of the hardest years of my life, my parents having seen the emotional weariness all over me, decided that it was time for me to visit Israel. As a surprise they hooked up with my teacher and booked 2 round trips to Israel - one for me and one for my friend. She was speechless, as her husband had left her without any money and debt that was consuming her. Her heart yearned for the land and she felt that she would never be given the opportunity to visit it. Our trip to Israel was amazing and when we got there, we felt shy to speak the language we had invested so much time and effort in to. It's daunting at first but eventually we got used to it and could help ourselves and others. When we got back from the land, we carried on studying Modern Hebrew for 5 years.

It's a part of me now, and every so often I get asked to teach it, an opportunity I never take! But who knows! Hebrew is a beautiful language, it's like music to my ears. It sounds romantic, sounds fierce and is altogether exotic. It's the language of the land of Israel and of the Bible. And it's amazing!I even plucked up the courage to take a Hebrew University course and wrote an exam on what I had learned. But no exam, no teacher and no seminar could have given me what I received through learning a language. It's not just about the language, its about what a language connects to and to how much a language has been through to come to us today. I am an English teacher and won many awards for languages in both primary and high school. Language to me, is beautiful. It connects, it inspires. Language called the world in to being (Genesis 1) and it still continues to hold the world up (Jeremiah 1:12). Let's embrace it and allow it to teach us all it has to say... (Sharing over at Velvet Ashes this week!)

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful! Hebrew is on my list of "maybe, someday". Not now, not in this season...but maybe the next. Thank you for sharing your story.