Learning Hebrew on the beach
Taking advantage of the fact many tourists and new immigrants spend most of their summer at the beach, the Tel Aviv municipality launched a new initiative: An 'ulpan' by the seaside where attendees can learn how to say 'Make my Sabich extra spicy' or 'Turn on the meter please.'
The Tel Aviv Global initiative, in cooperation with the municipal immigration absorption department, has recently launched a new project for the summer: A Hebrew "ulpan" on the beach.
The municipality knows that the thousands of tourists who visit the city during the summer prefer to spend their time by the seaside, so it set up a "classroom" on Gordon Beach, equipped with a chalkboard and some chairs.
Every Wednesday evening during the summer, tourists could learn basic words and phrases they might find useful during their visit, like "Sim li harif basabich" ("Make my Sabich extra spicy," with Sabich being an Israeli sandwich, consisting of pita stuffed with fried eggplant and hard boiled eggs); "Ech megi'im le Neve Zedek?" ("How do you get to Neve Tzedek?"); and of course "Tafil moneh be'vakasha" ("Turn on the meter please").
Naturally, some beach-related words will also make an appearance in the lessons, including "Shoko Banana" (a banana-flavored ice cream bar with chocolate coating); "Hasakeh" (a kind of surfboard maneuvered with a two-sided paddle); "Efshar Diet Cola?" ("Can I have diet coke?"); "Timrach li krem shizuf" ("Rub some sun block on me") and "Kama olah shimshiya?" ("How much is a parasol?").
Some 30 tourists from all over the world attended the first Hebrew lesson.
Teacher Michal Oppenhaim, the head of the city ulpan (Hebrew school) in Neve Tzedek, said the tourists were quick learners.
After having learned some words in Hebrew, the tourists enjoyed a hora performance by a troupe that also lent its time to teach them the Israeli folk dance.
Valerie, a 24-year-old new immigrant from Paris, attended the ulpan lesson. "I made aliyah a month ago and I'm just in love with Tel Aviv," she said. "It's scary to live in a place without knowing the language, and the idea of helping French people on the beach to talk (Hebrew) is simply 'magnifique,' as they say in France."