Learning Hebrew from the Source

The natural tendency in Hebrew language instruction is to teach the modern, spoken version of Ivrit. That tendency finds its source in the desire to teach the students in an interesting manner and to convey a feeling to the students that within a number of lessons they will be able to manage within Israeli society. When the teaching methodology is based a priori on how to be as modern as possible, you risk losing out on the unique linguistic content and the challenges of our language. The rich vocabulary and the precise grammar of the Hebrew language rest upon mountains of holiness. If the entire focus is on teaching in accordance with the modern cultural yardstick, we are liable to lose out on our original Jewish essence. The beauty of our language lies in our ability to speak the language of the Bible, which does not exist in other languages. For example, a British child, despite his being an English speaker, will have trouble reading and understanding a Shakespeare text written only 400 years ago.

Therefore, each teacher in Ulpan Meir, in accordance with the level of his class, is charged with a mission of imparting not just an answer to the question of how to learn Hebrew to live or study in Israel, but also an answer to the question of why the language functions the way it does. The students won’t just learn the language superficially in order to manage in society, but they will also attach themselves to it by way of the sources, and by such means, they will see the connection between the words and the roots. This will bring them a love of the language and an emotional identification with it.