Ladies and gentlemen, I've started to learn Hebrew.
Yes, I'm aware I won't be able to become fluent in the language in three months. Sure, there's actually no need to do that as all the Israelis I'll have to do with speak English really good. But... It's just that I can't stand the mere thought of going to a country where I can't read nor understand a single word. 'Come on' I said to myself 'Hebrew can't be that hard'. And got to work.
The first thing to do is to learn the alphabet. Here comes my luck: I've recently, just about 2 minutes away from my home, run into a poster advertising a 'free pilot course of Hebrew caligraphy' (those who live in Krakow still got a chance to enroll: http://www.biblijnespotkania.pl/kurs-kaligrafii-hebrajskiej/). Isn't that a coincidence? So far, I've taken part in one lesson only but it turned out to be easier and more fun than I'd guess.
The teacher would go through the alphabet letter by letter, calmly explaining us how to write it. We used special pens, not natural quills and ink, what made the whole task much easier. Each letter is written with two kinds of lines: the thin one and the wide one (exactly three times thicker). Depending on how you hold and press the pen, you get one of the two. What’s more, most of the letters have a very proportional, square shape and they consist mostly of straight lines- a dream for beginners.
What I loved about the teacher was that he didn’t just focus on the technical side. Leaning over our sheets, he would talk a lot about the biblical symbolism of each letter, its various meanings and usage and the number it’s associated with. There’s a whole magical world standing behind these 22 signs, it appears.
But if some of you thought that it’s enough to learn them in order to read and write in Hebrew, I must set you straight. It is nothing but the printed font, allowing you to read (be careful though, on Facebook the biblical letters are so simplified that they may be difficult for you to recognize) but hardly ever used for hand-writing. And this is why I needed another course. Again, the Krakow Days of Israel (here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/DniIzraelawKrakowie) came to rescue me, offering a free Hebrew class in the Jewish Community Centre. Despite how tired or busy I was, I simply couldn’t say no to such an opportunity. I’m glad I didn’t, as this hour turned out to be very helpful. Apart from learning a couple of useful phrases, we practiced all the written alphabet. Just what I needed. The teacher was very enthusiastic and she clearly knew what she was doing - if you are interested in taking up a course, regular classes at the JCC start in October.
At the top of the post there are my notes from both workshops: maybe nothing of extraordinary beauty but at least a proof that absolutely everyone can start learning. Hope that encourages some of you!
PS. The campaign slowly starts to roll: I have already received first two donations! Big big thanks for the sweet contributors!!! That makes me $35 closer to the Arava Valley for Peace Camp, $1165 still ahead. Wish me luck :)