Among non-Jews in Poland, a curious revival — of Hebrew
“Tell me,” asked one of my Polish friends, “isn’t it terribly complicated to write from right to left?”
For those who aren’t native to Israel, the Hebrew language can be daunting. From the writing from right to left to the difficult gutteral letters, Hebrew can be off-putting to many, but exotic and intriguing to others.
Strangely enough, one of the countries experiencing a surge in Hebrew studies is Poland. The residents of the Eastern European country, where prior to World War II a Jewish community of 3.5 million members lived, are discovering the magic of Hebrew. The demand for courses and private lessons is constantly growing.
But what would bring Poles, mostly Catholics with no Jewish roots, to want to learn Hebrew?
Conversations with some Hebrew students and teachers in Poland reveal many different reasons: Social or business connections with Israelis, curiosity about Poland’s Jewish history, love or Israeli spouses.
Anna Zaluska, 25, divides her time between several institutes. She teaches modern Hebrew in two schools and biblical Hebrew in the Babylon Foundation for Preserving Languages and Cultures in Warsaw.