Thursday, 25 February 2010

Ulpan - my Hebrew lessons

The place where I go for my Hebrew lessons is also a centre for the neighbourhood, and last week I was invited to join a group of elderly people, who meet every day for tea and talk.

A group of handicapped children from a local school had come to act out how to prepare for the Shabbat meal. Many of the elderly people were obviously quite poor and came from the Sephardic community, Jews from Arab countries like Morocco or Yemen or Iraq, who often ended up in poorer jobs and were subtly discriminated against by the Ashkenazi (European) Jews.

Fortunately this situation has changed over the years, but there still seems to be a distinction between the various groups. Now there is another group, the Jews from the old Soviet Union, over a million of whom emigrated to Israel in the 1990s.

Half of my Ulpan class comprises of Russians who have never quite mastered Hebrew. Others come from Argentina, Hungary and France, along with a couple of Brits. Most are older than me and l have been in the country for far longer.

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