The Sounds of Hebrew

I have played with Hebrew since I was little, as if the characters were waiting for me to know them. Hebrew words were puzzles for me, and as my nerdy child self played, I learned many sight words.

When I went to college to study theology, I finally got to study Hebrew seriously.

But even as rules of grammar and added vocabulary soaked into my brain, it was a silent world for Hebrew as much as any other language.

With my last pair of hearing aids, and a doctoral dissertation to finish, my Hebrew games were paused and set aside.

Since getting baptized and returning to the Scriptures, my old Hebrew books have been pulled out again, with added Hebrew classes and homework lessons bringing it all back to life again, now with meaning jumping out at me as my world became technicolor.

But going to Israel, and hearing with my digital ears, and experiencing aural Hebrew for the first time? There are not words to describe the delight! To hear words I have only read, and to speak words I have only written… what an emotional experience for me!

Last night when I got home from church, mom had made me a yummy meatloaf dinner to welcome me home. We enjoyed the evening together, and then as we settled into bedtime, I started over at the beginning, making flash cards for Hebrew letters and basic sounds. I want to put together what my eyes and brain know with what my ears can now hear. I am hungry to understand, excited to leap these letters off the page and into the sounds around me.

I woke early this morning, on schedule from good sleep, on schedule from the strict schedule the last two weeks. I did my studies, and then with the delight of a child on Christmas morning returned to my flash cards.

Like when I learned to hear English digitally, it is painstakingly slow. My eyes know more than my ears, and the discrepancy frustrates my brain. I can read and understand many things, but can only listen and understand simple child words.

But this is the beginning, and it is where I will start.

Now when I go run, I will listen to Hebrew songs I brought back with me, just so the sounds can become familiar, can begin to sink into me like seeds in the earth. The exposure will be like sunshine helping them sprout.

Boker tov!

Posted in Israel permalink

About Emily

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2009. I serve as a Chaplain, and work as a counselor. I got bilateral cochlear implants in 2010, but will always love sign language. I choose books over television, and organics over processed. Nothing is as close to flying as ballroom dancing - except maybe running, when in the solo mood. I would rather be outside than anywhere else, especially at the river riding my bike or kayaking. PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and currently doing a post-doc in Jewish Studies and an MDiv in Pastoral Counseling. The best thing about Emily World is that it's always an adventure, even if (not so) grammatically precise. The only thing better than writing is being married to a writer. Nathan Christensen and I were married in the Oklahoma City temple on 13 October 2012, and have since fostered more than eighty-five children. We have adopted the six who stayed, and are totally and completely and helplessly in love with our family. Nathan writes musical theater, including "Broadcast" (a musical history of the radio) and an adaption of Lois Lowry's "The Giver". He served his mission in South Korea, has taught song-writing in New York City public schools, and worked as a theater critic for a Tucson newspaper. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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