I know that I grumped and groaned an awful lot about learning Hebrew in my bat mitzvah class over the past year. Plus, you know, all the tears I shed.
But here I am, diving in again!
I really don't want to lose the Hebrew that I so painstakingly gained, so I talked with the rabbi and then proposed to my mitzvah-mates (a lovely term coined by one of my fellow bat mitzvah folks) that any interested folks could perhaps get together a few times over the summer and read an easy-Hebrew-for-adults storybook. I was amazed that most of the folks in the group said "yes" enthusiastically!
So today one of my mitzvah-mates and I and the rabbi had a little field trip to our local Jewish bookstore to select the book for the group. We settled on a book of Jewish parables. Each of the stories is 2-4 pages long, which will give us a frequent sense of accomplishment. I've already figured out that the first story features a blind man, so I think I'm doing well.
We also needed a Hebrew-English dictionary, of course. My rabbi recommends the Oxford, but the type was too small for me, so I got the Bantam, which is his second choice. I'm now going to have to spend time singing the aleph-bet song, since it turns out that, just as in English, one actually has to remember the order of the letters in order to use a dictionary!
And then, just because we're go-getters, we also bought a much more expensive book that is a language self-study course for English speakers who are traveling to Israel. Hebrew & Israel First Steps has lots of vocabulary and grammar, and each chapter is about a different place in Israel, so there's interesting content as well. It's modern Hebrew, as you'd expect, which means it begins by including all of the vowels but then gradually drops them away. I've been studying my Hebrew vocabulary without vowels for the last two or three weeks, and I'm sort of excited to push myself in this way.
It's perhaps weird that I'm so jazzed about studying Hebrew this summer when I was literally weeping over it last summer, but here is the difference, self-aggrandizing though it may be: The bar/bat mitzvah group's Hebrew teacher was a wonderfully generous woman who was doing the whole thing out of the goodness of her heart but isn't an especially good teacher and who kind of wanted to show off her own Hebrew skills. This summer, on the other hand, I am the de facto leader of this little unofficial group, and I feel confident that I can create a more positive learning climate in which we're all working at our own pace and ability and supporting one another. We shall see if that claim actually bears out.