Learning Hebrew


This happy and sunny picture was taken by me in the Yemin Moshe area of Jerusalem where I lived for a while in 2003. Isn’t it just bursting with the colours and vitality!? I don’t have any of my kibbutz photos with me here in Finland. But here is a fab photo on the net of kibbutz Alonim. The kibbutzim do look like this as well, though, for they are planted with gardens in a village-like setting. A kibbutz really is like a miniature village in its essence. This can be good but often it gets claustrophobic in a long run, as one need not step outside the village gate at all. All the services are there, even the hairdressers, beauticians and hospitals in many of the kibbutzim.

My favourite kibbutz of the four that I stayed in is right at the Lebanese border called, Yiron, but unfortunately, they did not have an Ulpan up there so I was forced to move to a kibbutz that did: Alonim, which is situated close to a town called, Qiryat Tivon on the main Haifa -Tiberias road.

I had had this strong yearning desire to learn Hebrew since I was 12-years of age and had been aiming to do so ever since. Talk about perseverance! This is a few word explanation what an ulpan is. I know, not exactly thorough but, at least, it gives a morsel what the word includes. Ulpan is often in a kibbutz where one works part-time and studies Hebrew six days a week full speed. It is an immersion course where everything is learned through Hebrew language whether it is the language  itself and the grammar, history, geography, music, or whatever, the teacher will only speak in Hebrew. We had all the above.

This idea of the immersion study is very hip and happening these days world over but then it was only done in Israel, as far as I am aware. Now nearly every country on the globe has in one or another language this excellent method of teaching. It sure gives amazing results and fast! Yet, it’s a fun way of learning, methinks. Hmm, most of the time that is…

The Aleph-course – the first level of studies – begins with right pantomime because most of the students do not have any of the language par a word or two; such as Shalom, Amen, Hallelujah, which are universal Hebrew words all over the world. I can still after all this time  picture Pnina, our teacher, doing these charades and exaggerated gestures with the punctuation of the correct pronunciation of the words and expressions she taught us. Oh, it was soo HILARIOUS! It makes me laugh, just as it did that time. And, do you know, I remember a lot of them with Pnina’s motions and moves!

The Ulpan was such a howl at times as I mentioned earlier in this entry. Pnina, my first teacher, was a born comedian. When she was trying to teach us, for example, ‘I am here. I am there.’ She would march out of the classroom and repeat for several times going back and forth:


Then returning.


Heureka!! The light bulbs went on. We got it.
What Pnina meant was:

“Pnina is there.
Pnina is here!”

Oh, we were soo pleased.
Pnina also, for sure. Metzuyan!!

She was praising our ability to get her charades saying:


It is most rewarding when one’s teaching methods work to the T, of course.

The class was too large for Pnina to handle by herself, so we were divided: I and another dozen or so who knew a bit more of the language went to Leah’s class – the Kita Bet – in the ulpan. Leah’s approach to teaching was vastly different from that of Pnina. No more comedy came from the front; it had to come from the class itself. It did.

Shalom, shalom m‘Riihele xx.


Here is another Ulpan-story a couple years ago when I revised me Hebrew in Jerusalem, called: ‘Hi Handsome!’

And some more Israel related entries:
Art of Living – Israel Style
Jerusalem City of Gold
Jerusalem: Life & Living
Jerusalem – Living History

The Hebrew words in bold:
Ulpan =
Hebrew language school
= there
Po = here
Yoffi = good, great
Metzuyan = excellent
= class
Bet = second; letter b
m‘= from