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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Meditation2018

Don’t take offense please.

I was just wondering if there are a few other people who want to learn Hebrew but aren’t Jewish. Someone has been saying something unpleasant because I’m not Jewish and want to learn Hebrew. I can already read with and without niqqud and know a little bit.

December 14, 2017

22 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Michael.Lubetsky

There are many non-Jews who study Hebrew. Some are Christians who want to read Scripture in the original language. Some are interested in Middle Eastern culture in general. Some are dating or married to Jews and want to understand Jewish culture better. Some are people who want/plan to visit Israel and would like to be able to get around better. Some have discovered Israeli film and music and want to understand it better. Some are Arabic-speakers who see Hebrew as a relatively easy language to learn with an Arabic base. Some just find the language interesting and beautiful.

No one has any business giving you flak for learning another language — be it Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, Chinese, High Klingon or whatever — tell the person who said unpleasant things to you to go get a life!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Meditation2018

You’ve listed several reasons why I want to learn it. To read the OT in its original language, travel, Middle East cultural interest and more. Thank you. I have been given flak for learning Dutch, Esperanto, and Hebrew.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Einat162

Hebrew I get why (antisemitic and political reasons), Esperanto is called by many "a made up language" (which it is... no country uses it- I considered starting it), - BUT Dutch?! I'm curious why giving you a hard time over that one? (that been said it is no ones business but your own).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/anomalousjack

I've been to a lot of places in the world and Isreal is right up there among the best. Even though a lot of people in the major urban areas speak English, learning Hebrew and Arabic will greatly enhance any trip you make and help you to reach out to those people and places that are often missed. Needless to say, most everyone concerned will respect you for your efforts, and that pretty much goes for any country in the world. That's just travel, but there are plenty of other good reasons to learn Hebrew given here. You seem like an intelligent guy and I think you've already made your mind up about the people giving you flak right? ;)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BonBonChat

Don't let that discourage you! Learn it! Hebrew is a wonderful language and Jewish culture (like all) is unique and beautiful- so go ahead and enjoy learning some of the language!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/noamc24

יא גבר בהצלחה


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Secretly_a_Jedi

I'm learning Hebrew and I'm not Jewish. :) Don't pay attention to that person. They don't know what they're talking about. You can learn any language you well please!! (And it looks like you have very well done that!) You don't have to be from that culture or religion to learn the language. :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TheEeveeLord

Why not? One major reason to learn a language is to develop an understanding of a culture you're not a part of. Also, there isn't really such a thing as a bad reason to learn a language.

As a Jew, I officially sign off on your learning Hebrew (not that you really need me to). בחצלחה!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Superprofan

Yep, I'd like to learn Hebrew (I'd prefer Yiddish, but there isn't such course here)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SummerPopsicles

I know... one word of Yiddish!!! Tatti! Means Dad.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SummerPopsicles

OK, I don't know if you mind me commenting because I am a jew but I think you're totally fine here. Gee, I'm not... er, what're the main religions in French?... Well, I'm not that, but I can still learn French. If someone said something unpleasant.. Then pay no attention to them! I don't know if when you block people it bars them from your discussions, but you don't really have to read their comments anyway, do you? I mean, if you see their name you could probably just scroll back up the page and get away from their comment..


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SarahBecraft

I don't know the context of the flak the OP is getting, so I can't comment on that, but I can understand why someone might not see French isn't the same as learning Hebrew. Hebrew used to be primarily a religious tongue not spoken outside of religious purposes, even going so far as to have laws about how to dispose of written Hebrew respectfully and not desecrating the name of G-d.

Comparatively, French is a colonial language. They took over other regions of the world and forced them to learn French, making it a global language. (Same applies to Arabic, English, Spanish, Portuguese, and other languages spoken globally, at some time or another.)

But that still brings me back around to, "If you didn't want others learning it, you shouldn't have made it the official language of a nation state..."

In a more similar vein, someone could be rightfully suspicious of me learning ancient Sanskrit, but getting mad at me for learning Hindu would be sort of silly, as it's the official language of India. That doesn't mean I couldn't potentially be using such knowledge for offensive purposes, however.

I'm part Sephardic as well as Mizrahi, so I have cultural background for learning Spanish, Hebrew, and Arabic, but I'd be an offensive jerk if I went around criticizing Latino people who don't know Spanish for not knowing Spanish, as an example. (I'm not saying I believe the OP is doing this. Rather, I'm remembering there have been times I've seen this, and I'm not guilt-free on this department myself. I dated a Latino guy and me speaking better Spanish than he did was something the family liked to highlight a lot, and I wasn't very understanding myself :/)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Einat162

I actually scan social media every now and then using #Hebrew as a key word to see if I can help people who is trying to learn or asking for a translation, I can tell you there are quite a lot of Christians who study Hebrew. Those who look into Hebrew and Judaism usually get harassed because of antisemitic and political reasons- sad, but true * shrug *


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/flootzavut

I'm a goy learning Hebrew! You're not alone.

I have actually not had a problem at all - I don't think any Jewish person has expressed any negativity over my efforts to learn Hebrew. I don't know if it's a Jew or a non-Jew who's been getting at you, but FWIW, no Jew (secular or religious) has ever expressed any kind of doubt or meanness to me for it. On the contrary, for the most part they have been extraordinarily kind and encouraging. I think the biggest reaction is perhaps surprise, but of a "wow, you're learning this tiny and not especially "useful" language just for pleasure and to talk to people?" type, not a negative or suspicious type of surprise.


[deactivated user]

    I know plenty of people that are learning Hebrew or already speak Hebrew and are not Jewish. Have fun learning Ivrit!


    [deactivated user]

      על לא דבר (:


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Thomas_Wesley

      I want to learn Hebrew and am pretty sure I'm not Jewish. I would definitely ignore that person.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Meditation2018

      I will. It’s just nice to have reassurance.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SarahBecraft

      I don't really see what the problem is with learning Modern Hebrew, as it is a World Language. Even Biblical Hebrew, though it's more explicitly religious, is such a large part of two of the largest religions worldwide that it would be hard for me to say that one cannot learn it because it's cultural appropriation or whatever. (In fact, often I wish Christians would attempt to learn about what the Tanakh means in Jewish context, paying attention to oral law and its influence on statements they otherwise take quite literally, as it deeply changes the meaning of things that they otherwise interpret as cruel or angry.)

      IMHO, if we had wanted to try to make the cultural appropriation commentary at all valid, we would have tried to revive and modernize Aramaic (the everyday tongue of the Jewish people 'back in the day' instead of Hebrew (which was in the day used only for religious purposes.) As it stands, Hebrew was revived/modernized, and then made the official language of a modern settler-state, which makes it a world language you can't really criticize one for learning. You take away the claim that it is only a religious language belonging to a specific culture.

      That said, having been followed home by Christians, having had Christians come into shul to try to proselytize/witness to us during/after services, having been to Christian services where they talk about traitorous, unfaithful Jews killing Jesus... These things do happen to us Jews. I don't know the context of the person's unpleasant commentary, etc., so assuming there's nothing untoward going on in your behavior or intentions, all I can say is there's nothing inherently wrong with learning Hebrew. Sometimes Jewish communities can feel intimidated/threatened/harassed and end up developing suspicion to anyone from the outside trying to learn about their communities, though. Even other Jewish people can get caught up in that cycle, if they're from another community. Hundreds of years of exiles and diaspora and progroms and attempted genocides can make communities pretty suspicious and insular of anyone they don't personally know. Assuming your intentions are simply personal and have no standing in doing anything offensive, take it with a grain of salt, IMO.

      /my personal Jewish opinion.

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