On June 10, the Jerusalem Intercultural
Center held its end of
the year party for its Arabic classes for Hebrew speakers. In 2011 - 2012 there
were more than 80 students in 6 classes over 4 levels. The classes target
professionals and students who come into contact with Arabic speakers on a
regular basis. This year students worked at different NGO's, Sha'are Zedek and
Hadassah hospitals, and more. The classes were so successful that students
continued to meet at each other's houses to study Arabic after the regular
The party included a second year
student who sang in both Hebrew and
Arabic and accompanied himself on the guitar. Students spoke and told their
stories - all in Arabic. Everyone thanked the teachers and remarked how
wonderful they were. Some examples of students' testimonies:
"We get a significant number of
Arab patients at the hospital, and the fact that I can communicate
with them in their language makes them feel more comfortable," said one
Sha'are Tzedek student. "Sometimes
even the doctors ask me to help translate. I feel
that I can really help all residents and not just Hebrew speakers and
I feel much better about it."
"The Jerusalem Intercultural
Center is one of the only places that teaches spoken and not literary Arabic which
is important if you want to communicate with people, and at the same time, we
learn Palestinian culture and people, not only the language," said another
A third student, peace activist and
photographer in the West Bank recalled his forays into the West
Bank. "There is much
less Hebrew spoken and Arabic is a must."
A fourth student who works as an art
teacher in the Hadassah Hospital school for hospitalized children, "
Jewish and Arab children study together while they are hospitalized and even
though there is supposed to be translation, there isn’t enough and I noticed a
significant difference after only the first few words I learned."