Living in Israel while being unknowledgeable of Hebrew

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  • #1405231

    slominer
    Participant

    What is life like for a family or individual permanently living in Eretz Yisroel while being unknowledgeable of Ivrit, in both written and spoken form? Is it similar to a Yeshiva student temporarily living in Eretz Yisroel? The family would be literate in English as well as a basic working knowledge of spoken Yiddish as a second language.

    #1405275

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    Yiddish is generally useless outside the immediate charedi areas, almost nobody who isnt charedi speaks or understand it

    English in Israel is so so, especially outside of tourist area.

    Also be aware that there is strong influence in Israel for charedim not to speak english , even if you come from an Anglo country (Native born charedim are considered OTD if they learn English)

    #1405367

    WinnieThePooh
    Participant

    In areas with a lot of Olim from English speaking countries, there is a lot of English in the community, (even among chareidim) and they would be able to get along to some extent- they can find English speaking doctors, shopkeepers usually have some English, and when they get stuck, there is usually someone around to translate. But many things would be hard for them to navigate without being able to communicate, for example, PTA meetings. Also job options would be very limited.
    Unless the kids are sent to Yiddish speaking schools, they would have to learn Hebrew to survive school. Even in schools that teach in Yiddish, I have a feeling a lot of the socialization among kids outside of the classroom is in Hebrew (unless they are sending to a school from a community that only speaks Yiddish at home too). There are many children who are olim who barely know Hebrew when they come and they do learn- they take ulpan, get help in school etc. It’s doable, depending on age of child, but can be a challenge, especially if there are learning or language disabilities.

    #1405508

    slominer
    Participant

    WTP – Thanks. How prevalent do you find English speaking families or individuals permanently living in Israel who are not fluent in Ivrit?

    #1406005

    WinnieThePooh
    Participant

    It really depends on the location- where I come from It’s pretty common to find adults who are not fluent- some people are just not good at learning a new language, and some may not pick it up because they are not so exposed to it. Sorry I can’t give you actual numbers or statistics, but considering that there are several shuls where announcements and droshos are in English, I would assume a large number are not comfortable with Hebrew. The large critical mass of English speakers makes it easier for those who don’t know Hebrew to function, but it doesn’t mean that there won’t be situations where they will need Hebrew and be disadvantaged without it. For example, I was at a parents-teacher meeting at my kid’s preschool. Lots of mothers chatting in English. Some were translating the teacher’s instructions to another mother. But when the teacher talked for an hour in rapid Hebrew about child development and what the goals were for the year, I am sure this woman was completely lost. Which means that the child is losing out because the mother cannot be as involved in her education.
    I would recommend that the family in question try to learn the language as best as they can, even if they don’t know it now. It will definitely make it easier to adapt to a new country.

    #1406045

    Avi K
    Participant

    IMHO, people who don’t achieve a modicum of fluency (probably someone who came as an adult will never lose his accent) simply have a fear just as some people have fears regarding Math or other subjects. I had great difficulty with French in school but Hebrew cam easily even though the US State Dept considers the former much easier to learn than the latter. The two keys were motivation and immersion (and BTW, the fact that olim speak in English, French or Russian among themselves does not necessarily indicate lack of fluency in Hebrew – it just feels more natural). I also find Hebrew to be a remarkably logical, regular language unlike French, which has many exceptions.

    People who come as retirees can get along without it but others will never feel part of Israel. It will, of course, also severely limit job opportunities as with anywhere else.

    As for Yiddish, unless one is a native speaker it will be very difficult to learn. It is more or less a form of German and his experiences studying the latter drove Mark Twain to write an essay called “The Awful German Language”, which can be read on-line.

    #1406061

    Shopping613 🌠
    Participant

    Look, adults find it hard to learn, and they survive without knowing.
    What bothers me is seeing kids who are born here and don’t know hebrew or people who came at age 9, 12, or even 19 and decided hebrew is too hard to learn.

    #1406093

    Avi K
    Participant

    Shopping, adults will only “survive” if they have incomes from Chutz laAretz on which they can live. I, however, am very disturbed that any frum Jew thinks that he does not need to learn our national language,

    #1406096

    slominer
    Participant

    WTP – Thanks, again.

    Shopping – How do those kids who were born in Israel (or came young, age 8, 12, 19) and don’t know Hebrew manage in Israel?

    Which children born in Israel don’t know Hebrew?

    #1406101

    Shopping613 🌠
    Participant

    Avi, there’s much work done over the internet nowadays, not a problem. I don’t know how people manage, I see kids at age 12 go to the supermarket and say “Um, yesh luchem um milk?”

    #1406190

    WinnieThePooh
    Participant

    Shopping- don’t be quick to judge. Maybe they just arrived a few months ago.
    Or maybe they are like one of my kids who was born here, attended school in Hebrew from age 2.5 but still is not fluent (speaking, comprehension is fine) due to language processing problems. So while most young kids pick up a second language without a problem, some don’t. (Answer to your question, slominer) There are probably adults like him too, who struggle with languages even though they may manage without obvious problems in their mother tongue. So not every adult who doesn’t speak Hebrew is being lazy or doesn’t feel it is important to learn.

    #1406229

    slominer
    Participant

    Are there communities living in Israel that b’shitta choose to not speak or be fluent in Ivrit?

    #1406305

    Mammele
    Participant

    (NOT an answer to Slonimer)
    Many families, generally where the father/husband is in Kollel, are in E.Y. for only a few years so they don’t bother learning Hebrew. Even for their kids, the native tongue (probably English) of the country they emigrated from is more important, so that they can manage linguistically down the road. I’d call them temporary oilim, although sometimes plans/circumstances change.

    #1406363

    twisted
    Participant

    I know people who are here thirty years or more, and they never became functional in Ivrit, Their social group was always other anglophone retirees and relations with neigbors, medical issues and contact with government ( or the water company) is always handicapped by the not universal presence of English speakers. Then there are certain bubbles such as parts of Romema, Rechavia Har Nof, and Ramat Eshkol in erussalem and in Bet Shemesh area where many live oblivious to the local language.
    Children generally have a better time of it. I came to EY with a pair of pre teens, and they were fluent enough within a year. My grandkids are fully bi or tri -, lingual , and even more if you count Newyorkish and South African English two separate languages

    #1406405

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    French is closer to English than Hebrew. About 1/3 of English words come from French. While it might be hard to speak it, many times if you see the word in print you can figure it out.

    Hebrew and English are not that close and is therefore harder to learn

    #1407862

    Avi K
    Participant

    Shopping, I wrote that they can survive if their income is from Chutz laAretz.

    Winnie, many people who are fluent in both languages sometimes mix. For example, English speakers will say “makkolet” and “Misrad HaPenim” rather than “grocery store” and “Ministry of the Interior”.

    ZD, you are correct about French so far as reading (I can, in fact, more or less read a newspaper in French) as what one does not know one can figure out from the context. However, there are also “false friends”. For example, in French blesser means “to wound”. In any case, I still think that Hebrew is easier to learn in a better way because of its regularity and logical structure.

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