Sunday, April 18, 2010

Learning Hebrew on your own: Some resources

Well, this blog has gone into hibernation although I wanted to publish a quick post to let you know it's not dead. I think things started to slow down when I started working a second job...and we bought a house, and we got pregnant with our third child, and I started traveling to California once every few months, and...you know...

Since both my jobs involve creating Web content, I have been doing other things to relax and enrich my free time that don't involve sitting in front of a computer screen. One of my goals for 2010 was to learn enough Hebrew that I could read the book of Genesis in its original language. I've been spending about 15 minutes per night studying The First Hebrew Primer on the floor of my son's room while he falls asleep. I picked this book after reading a number of reviews for "teach yourself Hebrew" texts, and I am happy with this choice. The print is large enough I can read it, and the book doesn't throw too much information at you before you're ready. Plenty of exercises help you review the material, although there's no included answer book. The going has been slow, but steady.

A few weeks ago I had a chance to browse the Jewish section at Powell's City of Books and had another great find: The Pentateuch and Rashi's Commentary: A Linear Translation into English. This old volume had the entire book of Genesis with the Hebrew and English side by side, line by line (not just verse by verse). I also get Rashi's commentary if I ever want to foray into Jewish theology...we'll see if I get time for that.

Finally, an amazing Web resource for Hebrew that has helped me learn pronunciation is the Mechon-Mamre Hebrew-English Bible online, which allows you to listen to any chapter as you read along.


Last night I made it through Genesis 1 (a good chapter for learning because of the repetition!) There is a beauty and simplicity in the Hebrew text that is making my work pay off.

Shalom until next post! Maybe I'll be in Canaan by that time.

Note: The author of this blog has not received any compensation from the authors or publishers of any of the materials reviewed in this post.