Teaching Biblical Hebrew in a Time of War

Teaching Biblical Hebrew in a Time of War

A grass-roots movement is growing in Israel: Israelis answering a call and using their gift of Native Hebrew to bring Biblical Hebrew to the nations. One local institution housing this effort is the School of Hebrew: Hebrew for the Nations at Jerusalem Seminary.
Jerusalem Seminary currently offers online Bible courses in English from Israel with wonderful instructors experienced in the Land. Thanks to president-elect Baruch Kvasnica, the vision of instruction from Zion in Micah 4:2 is coming to life. Despite reservations about continuing during the war, the team at the School of Hebrew feels especially called to continue at this time. God’s work continues no matter the circumstances!
The School of Hebrew offers ulpan-style immersion courses in Biblical Hebrew. The method is teaching Hebrew in Hebrew and the goal is for students to read the Bible confidently in its original language. Along the way students are delighted by the joy of speaking, story telling, singing, and praying in Biblical Hebrew. These online courses reach Bible translators, pastors, seminarians, and laymen learning together from all over the world with local Israeli teachers.
One of our teachers shared her thoughts with us on teaching Biblical Hebrew at a time of war. Crystal Ovadia is a graduate of our one-of-a-kind teachers training course for Israelis. She is also a recent graduate with an MA in Hebrew Language from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and part of the core teaching staff of the Jerusalem Seminary School of Hebrew.

How many courses have you been involved with teaching? What is your favorite part of the lessons?

I’ve taught 7 courses online and one intensive course in Nigeria. My favorite part of the lessons is visiting the breakout rooms where the students are applying and practicing what they’ve just learned in small groups.

In your opinion, why is it important for Israelis to bring Biblical Hebrew to the nations?

There is such a great need for Biblical Hebrew knowledge in the field of Bible translation, which practically means a need for Hebrew teachers. For us whose native language is Modern Israeli Hebrew, it is much easier and more accessible to get the necessary training to become effective Biblical Hebrew teachers. So I think we are the most natural candidates for this effort.

The courses are titled “Biblical Hebrew as a Living Language,” what makes it living for you?

Our courses are highly communicative and interactive, and all the students progress at the same pace as a group. We ask and answer questions, read the Scriptures together, and share our lives with each other. We really get to know each other in a supportive and growing environment and form long lasting relationships.

Last semester you had to cut an online lesson short because of red alert sirens. We understand the students stayed online and prayed when you left for the safe room and subsequently drove south. How was this for you as a teacher?

The students were supportive in prayer and understanding about the fact that we had to cut the class short and make it up another day. It personally felt like the students and teachers were a team, and while the Israeli team members needed encouragement, the overseas team members were able to give it warmly.

How has the war impacted your calling to continue teaching at this time?

The war made continuing life as usual hard, but it did not change my calling to teach one bit.

When the war broke out the team considered postponing certain courses. Why did you decide to continue despite the circumstances?

As a society we are used to complex security situations. Unless we are extremely impacted by terror or war (like the communities just a few kilometers north of me who were evacuated from their homes), our leaning is to continue with our normal routines as much as possible. Since we had committed students registered for the courses, we went forward with the plans, even though one of our teachers was drafted for reserve duty and another was stuck abroad.

This spring Jerusalem Seminary is welcoming students from India, New Zealand, Myanmar, the UK, Russia, Uganda, Honduras, Israel, and the United States. Last semester also hosted students from Ethiopia, Benin, Suriname, Germany, Central Asia, and more! Many of these students are involved in active Bible translation projects, or studying to teach in seminaries, small groups, and churches around the world. Other students come to us to grow in their walks and better serve their communities by learning from a Hebraic, Land-based perspective.

Join teachers like Crystal, as well as experts in other Bible subjects, for the spring semester online courses starting next week! Spring discount codes and Biblical Hebrew scholarships are available on the course page and can be applied to these unique courses:

2 thoughts on “Teaching Biblical Hebrew in a Time of War”

  1. Fausto( Chito) Medina

    Can you please write a brief summary of your syllabus? And the cost,? Is the class taught VIA zoom?

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