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"Lehitraot" Ulpan Ra'anana
"Sof, Sof" or "finally" I finished my five month course in modern Hebrew. Along with hundred of other new immigrants, I studied at the Absorption Center here in Ra'anana. To me, the best part was the social interaction. I have made friendships that I think will last a lifetime. It is so helpful to meet people who have also left their countries and families and lifestyle. We share so much in common. The one thing that is different is that I think I am the only Christian.
Because it is an absorption center, about 99.9% of the people there are new Jewish immigrants. I wouldn't suspect otherwise in the Jewish nation of Israel. But my friends have made me feel quite welcome and we have very interesting cultural and religious conversations. Nicole is from Columbia, Lee is from England, Chaim is from France, Tsipi is from Venezuela, Florence is from France, Alona is from the Ukrain and Audry is from the States. And there are even more nations represented in the center which make the whole experience quite enriching on so many levels.
Israel is a phenomenal example of successful assimilation of immigrants. It is a multi-cultural nation with floods of immigrants coming from every corner of the world and speaking dozens of languages with differing symbols and dialects. The daunting task was accomplished through the system of ulpans created to educate new arrivals in Hebrew and thus create, through language, a common bond and identity.
An ulpan is an educational institution run designed specifically for learning Hebrew. Some ulpans are funded by municipalities, others by the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, or the Jewish Agency.
Today in Israel over 6,000,000 Israelis speak, read and write modern Hebrew fluently, but for centuries the language was used only by academics and religious leaders. In fact, the notion of speaking Hebrew on the street was even offensive to some as it was considered a holy, consecrated language not to be reduced to idle talk on the streets.
In 1901, when the ideals of the modern Zionist movement were developing, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda made his way to Israel with the ambition to revive the Hebrew language. He published articles in newspapers and began the Ben Yehuda Dictionary program. His motto was "Hebrew in the homes and schools" as well as "talk and talk." He worked zealously and fought against aggressive opposition to raise support for his cause - a Jewish nation with Hebrew as the national language.
In 1948 the state of Israel was officially declared and recognized. Among the first actions of Israel's new parliament was the declaration that Hebrew would replace English as the language of the nation. In 1949 the first ulpan in Jerusalem was founded and since then, it is estimated that two million people have learned Hebrew at ulpans throughout Israel.
Israel's success at making Hebrew the common language is due in large part to the ulpan system. In recognition of the innovative, culture-enriched method of teaching the language, many nations have adopted the ulpan framework in attempts to revive their dying languages. Wales, Azerbaijan, Brittany, Catalonia and New Zealand have all duplicated the Israeli ulpan model of instruction. Wales even decided to keep the Hebrew name "ulpan" or "Wlpan" as it is pronounced in Welsh. The actions of these nations demonstrate that Israel's epic achievement in reviving their ancient language is yet further evidence of the powerful influence this little nation wields.
I am privileged to have been a part of this system. Though I have to say, I am happy to put the grammar exercises behind me and put some practical conversation into practice!
- By Dani 1206 Days AgoVery interesting history of the Hebrew language. It is also nice to hear how Israel sets the standard for welcoming so many cultures into one little country. One would think Jerusalem would be celebrated for its diversity as is New York city. Sadly, our U.S. media has another agenda. I am glad you made it through the class and formed lasting friendships. Now get out there and practice your bartering!
Living life in the Holy Land