Eliana Steinberg

Life Editor

After ten years of learning the Hebrew language at a Jewish day school, I am still not fluent. I use past and future tenses interchangeably and draw pretzels instead of Fay Sofeets. Although I may never feel comfortable pronouncing Hummus, Hebrew class has taught me certain valuable life skills.

Hebrew is a core class, a regular period of 65 minutes, rotating between two and three times a week. Each class we pull out our paper-thin Neta books or buddy up with our more responsible neighbor and immerse ourselves in the language of squiggles. Our homework, which is out of 12 points and seldom decorated with a plump smiley face, lies on our desks as we tug at its perforated edge.

Hebrew book

It remains as one of the only classes to function without laptops, resulting in the comeback of both the pencil box and hand cramps. We receive daily participation grades and are mercilessly judged by our singing voice.

Hebrew class thrives as a non-competitive atmosphere where lessons are taught with questions and exaggerated hand gestures. Although the class is usually more functional in English, all hopes of learning the Hebrew language are not lost.  Recently, I’ve realized that our Hebrew classes have included as many philosophical discussions as grammar lessons. It’s as if I have stumbled into a philosophy class taught in a foreign language. We learn concepts so intricate that they lack real terms in the English language. Lessons about time provoke existential discussions routinely interrupted by “How do you say…?” As the lesson veers into philosophy, the class awakens and begins to shout out. The information, far from useless, forces us to think in a different language- and to think deeply.

In a short procrastination unit, my teacher glossed over useful study habits reserved for Life Skills seminars. We thought of solutions to the greatest threat to teenagers today: procrastination. In addition to learning conversational Hebrew, we’re grazing over significant topics that our other classes don’t touch.