Monday, July 19, 2010

Immersion Is Rough

Unlike the summer school that students need to take to make up classes in high school, summer school this year is awesome if anything. The immersion into Hebrew is intense and difficult. I continually run into the issue of not understanding what our teacher is talking about. But she is speaking about 95% in Hebrew the entire time. We get the benefit of a few words thrown in here and there when it seems as though we don't really know what's going on.

The issue I keep having is that about 75% of the time, I don't know what she's talking about. I'm really glad that Renana taught us to just go with the flow though. I talked with Marina about it and it really seems beneficial to just try to understand most of that she is saying while teaching grammar or reading a story in class. It is great knowing that the majority of what is going on I'm able to keep up with. It means that this has all been worthwhile getting up to speed.

I also really like the makeup of our class. It seems like a really good mix of students and most of us seem to be in the same boat. Hopefully we will get our books tomorrow and we can start to learn out of them. We've been doing stuff that is all out of photocopies right now. I'm still trying to get used to the idea of spending from 8:30 - 1:00 each day on the same subject. We do get about 45 minutes of breaks but it's a long time to then head home and do some homework.

I haven't been only learning Hebrew though for the last two days. Yesterday, after Hebrew class, the Cantillation classes were started. I was so excited to learn that I took both classes! Well, that's not exactly why I sat in for both.

I've read Torah a long time ago, but the past few years, teaching sixth grade, I've had the chance to be in the room while the B'nei Mitzvah students start learning trope. Yes, osmosis works for this. Just by being in the room and looking over their shoulders I have been able to pick up quite a bit of trope. So after sitting in three-hours of Torah Chanting class, I think I found where I fit. I just need to get my voice back into the shape it was during the session that I took my singing class at the University of Minnesota. I guess that one was such a slouch of a class after all.

After the first day of class we had the chance to learn by "Walking the Psalms through Jerusalem." Rabbi Wilfond lead a cool tour of the city interspersed with various text studies that we read or sang as we learned about the area we were in. This city is really starting to grow on me for all of it's problems.

Before I run off to Tisha B'Av services, I wanted to quickly note one of Israel's most famous problems; bureaucracy. Most things around here take talking to four of five people and even then you need to shout and make yourself heard. I was told this would be especially hard at the Misrad HaPanim, the Ministry that is in charge of handing out visas. I was told to go through their motions and expect nothing to get done until I show up and wait outside the office. Sometimes people actually do what they are supposed to, so you can believe my surprise when I got an email from school telling me that the Ministry called to set up my appointment. YEA!

As I'm signing off for now, I want to leave you with a picture that is here only because Kaitlin asked me for it. As you look at the picture below just imagine Adam Sandler singing,
"I've got my lunch packed up,
My boots tied tight,
I hope I don't get in a fight,
Back to school,
Back to school,
Back to school."

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