For many people, the Hebrew language is only familiar from that time they went to their Jewish friend’s Bat Mitzvah back in seventh grade.
But members of a new club on campus are looking to change that.
Medabrim: Hebrew Hour with Friends is a new Hebrew-speaking club on campus that started up at the beginning of this semester.
The club’s name, Medabrim, comes from the Hebrew word meaning “speaks.” The club has weekly meetings where members can get together and practice speaking Hebrew with one another.
Medabrim’s unofficial start began in the spring when psychology graduate student Amoneeta Beckstein began taking Hebrew classes at ASU and discovered she needed more practice.
“I noticed that there were no opportunities to practice outside of class,” said Beckstein who is Jewish. “In class, you don’t get that much chance to speak, and when you do, you get corrected, so it’s hard to feel comfortable just speaking.”
Beckstein began informally meeting with fellow students to practice at the Hillel Jewish Center located across the street from Gammage auditorium on the Tempe campus. There, he found enough people interested to start a club.
The club currently has about 20 members and Beckstein is hoping it will continue to grow. He said anyone is allowed to join and they shouldn’t feel put-off if they are only beginning speakers.
“The more people who come in with diverse levels of Hebrew, the better it is,” he said. “Even a beginner knows some vocabulary that the more advanced students don’t remember, and a native speaker can learn some key English phrases.”
English literature senior Graeme Fox said he enjoys being a member of the club. He found that Hebrew classes on campus aren’t as big as the other language classes offered, so it was hard for him to find people to practice the language.
“Having a club around, even if only for an hour a week, is an excellent way to meet and interact with our classmates and those interested in practicing Hebrew,” Fox said.
Since Hebrew is one of the two official languages in Israel, the other being Arabic, the Medabrim club has aligned itself with another club on campus, Sun Devils for Israel.
Management junior Hayley Magerman, president of Sun Devils for Israel, said the club was created in 2008 because there was a lack of support for Israel on campus and students were given inaccurate representations of the country.
Both clubs encourage teaching about the culture of Israel in order to give students a different view about the country than they see in the news.
Medabrim meets at the Memorial Union every Thursday from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com