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Mother and Son—in utero—Studied Hebrew at University’s Summer Ulpan
by Rosalie Armstrong

“You must have lost your head,” people said to me. Another woman said, “You know, I wondered about you last year going to Israel, but think of your baby! You just can’t be thinking of yourself anymore going to these dangerous places!”
Being pregnant, I knew that the summer of 2004 would probably be the last time for a while that I would feel that I could justify traveling to Israel. It is also easier to go while the baby is in utero. Plus I had the very clear goal in mind of being able to know some Hebrew so that I could share this with the baby as he grew.

I had a month of vacation and other leaves that I could take. In such a short time, I was not so naïve as to think that in one summer month I would be able to read the poetry of Bialik. As my husband had had the benefit of an extensive day-school education in Toronto and had grown up in a family of true “Hebrewphiles,” I had no concerns that that there would not be someone to help our little son with homework. However, I wanted to be able to have at least a basic understanding of the grammar and some vocabulary. As a convert to Judaism, I naturally did not have exposure to Hebrew grammar as a child. This was to be my chance to learn as much as I could.

While I have always enjoyed language study—having taken on French, Spanish, and Danish—I found Hebrew a bit intimidating because of the different letters and the right-to-left reading. Luckily I had taken a couple of the crash courses in Hebrew reading here in Canada, so I had some confidence that I could learn.
I looked around on the Internet for a place that I could go in the summer that would expand my existing knowledge, be affordable, and that was used to teaching beginners.

As it turns out, the University of Haifa summer Ulpan was just the place! After some helpful communications by e-mail and phone, I was signed up for the summer.

The Ulpan, I came to learn, is a very special place with some very caring and concerned staff. Knowing that I was pregnant, they were sure to place me in a residence room where I would not have to climb a lot of stairs. As the University residence is nestled alongside Mount Carmel, this was an important concern that I could never have anticipated.

After my luggage went lost for a week, and knowing how difficult it is for a pregnant woman to find quick replacement clothing, the thoughtful staff showed up with towels, large t-shirts, their husbands’ shirts, and other items to make me comfortable.
The quality of the Ulpan is excellent. Those who wish to study there should be aware that this is no holiday! You are in school for almost four hours a day, and you have several hours of homework a night. However, if you are serious about doing intensive Hebrew study and leaving Israel after a month knowing a lot more than when you arrived, this is the place for you.

The Ulpan students in my class (Level 2) came from all over Europe and the United States and ranged in age from 16 to at least 65. It was truly amazing to see the number of non-Jews studying the language, and who were doing it for fun or personal interest. It was also very motivational to see the students in the Level 10 course outside on the picnic tables at night having intensive discussions about the latest Israeli novelists or debating a controversial movie or political issues. Therefore this is not only an Ulpan for pregnant beginners!

The Ulpan has a staff of madrichim (or motivational leaders) who lead hiking trips into the Golan and plan many other wonderful outings for people of all interests. I was chomping at the bit on the day the Ulpan left for the overnight hike in the Golan, but when I saw them all come back and heard their stories of crawling through tunnels and swimming rivers, I realized that I (and my doctor!) had been right to limit my physical activity for the sake of the baby. I did take the special group bus tours to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and had a great time.

And what kind of student was our baby? Well, he was a very keen student, kicking actively in my tummy during class and kicking me from my afternoon nap to encourage me to do my homework in the evening once the heat died down. For such a young student, he certainly was popular with students and staff, who enjoyed watching how much he grew in a month’s time!
As a result of this great adventure, we do speak some Hebrew to our son at home. He knows very well that he is a “Tinok,” not a mere baby!

Rosalie Armstrong is a former participant in the 2003 Young Diplomatic Leadership Seminar sponsored by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which began her great love affair with Israel. She is currently on maternity leave from the Federal Department of Justice. She is married to Adam Newman. Their son, the ulpan “talmid,” Joseph Rachamim Newman, was born on December 3, 2004.


In This Issue:

President’s Focus - Battling Unjust Resolutions

Prof. Azy Barak’s SAHAR Offers a Vital Virtual Shoulder to Those with Nowhere Else to Turn

University Joins War on Drugs,
Campaign Is Integral to Interdisciplinary Clinical Center’s Service

Kidma Project Helps Students Face Their Identities

University Will Not Be Silent in Face of UK Boycott

Anat Liberman Is New External Relations Head

Prof. Majid Al-Haj to Be New Dean of Research

Prof. Sophia Menache – New Dean of Graduate Studies

Prof. Menachem Mor—Dean of Humanities

Virtual Open House Proves a Big Hit

Students Have an Address for Complaints: Professor Schatzker, Their Ombudsman

Computer Science and Occupational Therapy Team Up for Virtual Reality Conference
Student Develops Innovative Technology to Deal with Post-Traumatic Stress

Giora Lehavi: His Job Is to Check on Quality Management, and Other Standards

University’s Sports Teams Prove a Winner in More Ways than One

Student Publishes His Road to Wisdom

Honors and Awards

Mother and Son—in utero—Studied Hebrew at University’s Summer Ulpan

University’s China Connection Continues

Unique Algorithm Enables Better Mobile Wireless Communication




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