Wonder of Wonders
I didn't know even know my Aleph Bet, but by the end an eight-hour Hebrew language marathon, I was able to read.
But I was into it. I love being a student. I wanted to be the best in the class, so I paid careful attention, and before I knew it, I was ripping my way through the vowels and was leading the cheer each time as we mastered a new letter, starting at aleph and going on throughbet, gimmel, dalid, hay, vav,
and so forth.
In fact, by the time the afternoon rolled around, it had become apparent that Hebrew really did seem to be a pretty easy language to learn. Before I knew it, I was readingin Hebrew
the name of a popular American-Israeli dance song (Hava Nagila
), the name of the first Jew (Avraham
), and the name of the twisted bread used for Shabbat and holidays (Challah
). What had been Greek to me all these months and years was now, well, Hebrew.
So, with my gimmels, vavs, and dalids under my belt, what would my future be? The curriculum urges a follow-up class of six weekly sessions using Golinkin's other textbook, "Shalom Aleichem," for which I was game. He also stressed the need for practice--20 minutes per day, doable in any schedule. And the fact that Hebrew is a relatively easy language to learn, with this excellent curriculum to teach it, makes widespread Hebrew literacy a real possibility for Jews.
That night, I went home and read from the prayer book for my wife and my son, who had his bar mitzvah a year and a half ago. I remembered how my wife spent 10 minutes every morning with my son during the year before his bar mitzvah, teaching him his lessons. Now they listened to me, as I stumbled through a line of the morning prayers. My wife was beaming. My son found it hilarious. Of course, Genesis tells us that Avraham found it hilarious when he discovered that his 90-year-old wife, Sarah, was pregnant. So, as Avraham laughed, my son laughed. And so did I. Because, wonder of wonders, suddenly I was a Hebrew-reading wonder...after just one day.