We’re not in Kansas Anymore, Toto!

Shalom, Shmi Eve, v’ani rak yoda’at l’daber b’ivrit biglal she yesh li shteim esrei shaot shel shiurim b’yom b’ivrit. Hi, My name is Eve and I only know how to speak in Hebrew because I have 12 hours of classes a day in Hebrew. This past Sunday, I began my full time studies at Machon Schechter. What a week it has been. While I knew my classes would be in Hebrew, and I am fairly confident in my Hebrew abilities, I do not think I was prepared for the 12 hour day of classes that awaited me. I must thank my Hebrew teachers throughout my life, and my parents for insisting that I learn Hebrew, as I am not completly lost in class when the teacher speaks Hebrew. By the middle of the first day, however, i was completly overwhelmed and perhaps in shock at the brain power it takes to actually pay attention for a complete 2 hrs. or more in Hebrew. If i miss a word, I am lost, if i try to take notes, it’s hard to keep up, and the classes are HUGE compared to the UJ. At the UJ my biggest class is about 10 people, sometimes a few more. My classes here began at 15 people, some of whom are Israeli. Needless to say, this week is an adjustment period to say the least.
To give you an idea as to why I am so overwhelmed, I am in classes from 7:30am beginning with Minyan until 6:30 pm from Sunday-Tuesday (I have an hour break aside from lunch on Monday). Along with that, almost all of my classes are taught in Hebrew, some with prep time before, and some without. The benefit of the three day marathon is that on Wednesday i have only one class so I am done by noon and on Thursday, also only one class which I am auditing. The best part about the Israeli school day is that there is a half hour break at 10 for Aruchat Eser, the ten o’clock meal, in which everyone has a chance to eat a small snack and take care of their needs as opposed to being rushed between classes.
What classes am I taking you might ask:
Talmud: We are studying Brachot and comparing different manuscripts. This class will be my hardest as it is level 4, with 10 americans, 5 Israelis and an Israeli teacher. So far, so good, but I will need to work hard at it. The best part of the class is that the teacher keeps her pipe on the desk, and I know one of these days she will probably smoke in class… Oh, how wonderful!
Poskim: In this class we are going to learn about the different ways in which one decides law, and also hwo to look up the final decision on various legal matters. I was originally in a class that had a different subject, but the class had too many people in it for my own comfort and so I switched into a smaller class where the teacher has promised to teach me the skills i need to do this completely on my own!
Israeli Society (ENGLISH): In this class i will get a rough outline of Israeli Society, the history and culture of the state, and more. A straight-forward class!
Mikre (BIBLE): My bible class seems to be really interesting. The teacher speaks in Hebrew I can understand, and the subject matter interests me as well. We are studying shemot (Exodus) and various pieces of Moses’ life and the relationship of the exodus from Egypt to the rest of our mitzvoth and the Torah.
HEBREW: obviously an important class. The class is a nice size, the teacher seems sweet, and I am already learning a lot! Any fears I had about speaking in Hebrew are quickly vanishing.
Halacha L’Ma’aseh: This class, also in Hebrew focuses on actual laws and rulings that are done. How we should act, and live our lives. I also switched into a new section of this class after the first meeting so taht I can have a class with fewer people and receive one on one attention from the teacher. This is the first time I am learning this subject, and really would like to feel ownership at the end of the year.
Israel Seminar: (English) the purpose of this class is to discuss Israel, our current views, learn history, and the inner workings of the country and how it focuses on my life today and connections I can build. This class is nice as we are broken into three small groups with an advisor leading each group. Rabbi Shlomo Tucker, the assistant dean of Schechter’s program is my group leader, and I have found it to be most enjoyable!
Midrash: This class, also in Hebrew was a lot of fun today, and i followed the entire class and even participated. We are going to study Midrash in Beresheit Rabbah and different aspects of midrash and how it came to be, and how it is different from other forms of work with texts.
Talmud Bikkiyut: This class, also in Hebrew is a class in which we will do one amud of Talmud a week, and work on mastering texts with our own skills on a most basic level. The teacher for this class is fantastic and broke down the text in a manageable way, and an understandable way. I think I will like this class.
Volunteer Project: During the year, we are each required to do a volunteer project of about 3 hrs. per week within the Masorti Movement in Israel. I have chosen to do this by teaching in an open Beit Midrash program at Hebrew University on Wednesday nights. I get to choose the text that I will teach and it seems like it iwll be a wonderful opportunity to work with college students and improve my learning.
Women and Halacha: To add to my already long Sunday, i ahve decided to take a class on Women and their halachot at the Conservative Yeshiva on Sunday nights. While it is hard to sit for so long, it is one of my goals for the year, and I am looking forward to pushing myself.

And, that wraps it up… after i do some homework and rest my brain (read, if i dont fall asleep doing my work before 10pm), i will add my feelings and thought processes over the past few days. If not, today, then tomorrow or so!
Rest assured that I am fine, I am happy, I am learning, just overwhelmed and inredibly busy with my 10 or so classes!!

One thought on “We’re not in Kansas Anymore, Toto!

  1. Matt October 25, 2006 / 4:17 am

    Wow! That’s incredible! Thank you for the detailed schedule and class listing – that’s very interesting and it’s great to know what you’re up to! We miss you at the Yeshiva, however!


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