With more than a decade of waiting, Modern Hebrew students are excited and grateful to find their study abroad reinstated at the Jerusalem Center for the Spring/Summer 2013 Semester.
The BYU Jerusalem Center is now offering the Special Intensive Hebrew option to students who have completed Hebrew 201 by Spring 2013. Students studying Modern Hebrew will gain five credit hours of Hebrew, study with native Israeli instructors and participate in all Jerusalem Center field trips to places like Jordan and Turkey. Hebrew students are excited to apply to the program in November and are grateful for the efforts made by many professors and staff at BYU.
Neoma Williams, a junior from Rockford, Ill. majoring in comparative literature, said she was excited about applying to the program. When she started studying Hebrew in Fall 2009, she was interested in the language but frustrated she could not go beyond the university level; now this prospect has presented a great opportunity for her and her peers.
“To learn Hebrew in that setting will give better insight into Middle Eastern culture, Judaism and history,” Williams said. “Having a language background in Jerusalem will enrich the experience there because it ties you more closely to the people and the place.”
Patrick Monson, a family history major from Bountiful encouraged all qualified students to take advantage of this invitation because he attended the regular Jerusalem Center program in Fall 2009. While there, he gained a deep appreciation for the people and culture and hopes to return one day.
“The Jerusalem Center is the gem of BYU,” Monson said. “We have the ability to communicate with people on a higher level and those rich experiences will increase as they get to know the people a lot better. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Hebrew students.”
Erin Olsen, a past professor of Modern Hebrew at BYU said the year the Jerusalem Center closed resulted in a dramatic drop in students studying Modern Hebrew. Since that time, Olsen and other professors had petitioned to regain the study abroad. Their goal was to capitalize on the unique language opportunities at BYU that balance both Arabic and Hebrew studies and serve as a gateway to understanding the Arab-Israeli conflict.
“This neutrality creates the option for LDS people to be fluent in the conflict and fluent in people’s lives to get into the human narrative,” Olsen said. “It’s life altering to get to speak to people in their mother tongue and find out why they live and breathe.”
Meredith Nelson, a visiting professor of Modern Hebrew, inherited the project from Olsen in Fall 2010 and looks forward to sending her students to Jerusalem. Nelson said she was happy she could see the efforts of her colleagues bear fruit that will potentially revitalize the Modern Hebrew program.
“We had to find a way that the program would not interfere with the regular Jerusalem Center program,” Nelson said. “Basically, everyone made compromises and that’s what it came down to. We are really grateful for the Jerusalem Center’s help and willingness to take the program on.”