The other night I went to a birthday party of an old friend of mine who is a staunch Christian. I started talking to one of his friends, David, who said they both attend a group called Hebrew4christians. Starting this conversation, I realised that my night was about to become very interesting. I was so curious about this group called that identified as Christians but wanted to learn Hebrew! I asked Dave to write down the name of the group for me. When he wrote it down for me, I noticed there were no capitals, and the word ‘for’ was represented by the number 4. It struck me that it was spelt differently to other groups.
Opportunities for Christians to learn Hebrew letters
There are many opportunities for Christians to learn to read Hebrew letters. Indeed, knowing how to read them are key for anyone who wants to learn Hebrew, whether are they Jewish, Christian or any other relation. However, before I started discussing that, I asked David why the group’s name, Hebrew4christians, does not have capital letters or spaces and uses the number 4. He said that it is easier to attract younger people to this group.
Most of the communication for the group that attracts Christian people who are interested in Hebrew is via social media and messenger. Gen Z prefers this communication mode. I thought, “My, how the world has changed since I was a young adult!”. If there were any groups when I was a young adult called ‘Hebrew4christians’, it would have been spelt very differently!
I thought if that draws young people in to be part of a group, so be it. I was so curious about this group of Christians who were interested in this ancient language. I do not think David knew what hit him! I could not stop asking questions about this group! It turns out that this group focuses on the text from the Torah, as they want to read the Bible in its original text.
The Hebrew alphabet
The Hebrew alphabet is the focus of their learning. As the saying goes, a person needs to learn to crawl before they can walk; and they need to learn to walk before they can run! As beginners they need to start learning the basics. They need to learn the basics of how to read Hebrew before they can progress to the more difficult texts! A great resource to learn how to read is Easy Learn Hebrew.
Hebrew grammar is an important part of their learning along with the afore-mentioned aleph bet. I learnt that they meet weekly on a Thursday evening at a different person’s house each time and that the majority of attendees are between 25 to 30 years old. However, there are a few in their 40s and 50s. I did not realise it was such a popular group!
I find it fascinating that biblical Hebrew plays such an important part; so much so that they are currently studying Shabbat Hagadol. Shabbat Hagadol is the Sabbath immediately preceding Passover (or Pesach in Hebrew); and is called HaGadol, the great Sabbath. According to tradition, the 10th of in the year of the exodus was a Saturday.
My friend Dave explained, that according to the code of Jewish Law, the Israelites could on that day select a lamb for sacrifice without being molested by their Egyptian masters, who, at other times, would have stoned them for such daring. This was considered a great event, in fact a miracle. Although I had heard of Shabbat HaGadol, this reason was new to me.
It was fantastic to learn something new about Pesach. I knew that Pesach/Passover occurs on the tenth day of the Hebrew month of Nisan, but I did not know about all the traditions. It was so lovely to attend a party and to discuss something as meaningful as Jewish tradition with a close friend of mine. I loved making this connection with him.
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