All I have to say about the first day of classes is that I am SO glad I learned how to write in Hebrew script prior to taking these classes. Thanks to my wonderful roommates for helping me with it! I would have been COMPLETELY lost.
As it were, I was a little more ahead in my Foundations of Hebrew but a little behind in my Hebrew Grammar. I picked up quickly on saying introductions in Hebrew. [Shalom! Ani Alli. Mi aht? Na'im ma'od! Ani m'Pennsylvania. Ma'im aht? Yofi!] A couple of students began a furious debate with the poor teacher of why they were required to learn modern Hebrew when they felt that Biblical Hebrew would be a much more appropriate requirement for at least most, if not all, the programs of study at JTS, and why they needed to even bother learning the Hebrew script, for that matter? Um, hello? You're in a Jewish school, on the graduate level of course, and most of the programs of study are relevant topics emphatically discussed in Israel as well as other Hebrew speaking peoples, and therefore will have to read many many academic papers, essays, theses, magazines, etc in modern Hebrew! How can you seriously expect to keep up with course topics if you refuse to learn modern Hebrew?? Ok, so you won't need to know Hebrew script if all the academic literature is typed. However, your professors will be writing things on chalk boards in Hebrew, correct? They're not going to write in block letters, they're going to use the script! Oh, and learning to converse/listen in modern Hebrew? You're most likely going to hear things spoken to you in Hebrew: lectures and professors explaining certain things. Come on! Seriously? Thanks for ruining my first day of Hebrew, jerks. I was super psyched about class until that popped out. Idiots.
Then I went to my grammar class. Holy crap. Thank God I learned ALL of this material, or I would be SO lost! When our teacher came in, she started talking rapid-fire Hebrew and all I think was, "Crap, I'm in trouble." She went in and out of Hebrew and English, so I was picking things up. Luckily, though, she'll be teaching in English. However, we're learning all the Hebrew grammatical terms. I get lost until she says the fancy English grammar term, and then I can make a connection. haha. Of course, our homework for the first night is the only topic she covered that went completely over my head. Guess that's good, though! I'll learn it quickly!
So that's my first day of class! We'll see what day #2 of baby Hebrew and Intro to the Hebrew Bible will bring!