Greenwich Time: Speak Hebrew over fresh-brewed coffee at JCC Greenwich
Photo: Temple Sholom Selma Maisel Nursery School
Racheli Ben Shimol imitates floating in the Dead Sea in September 2016, at Temple Sholom Selma Maisel Nursery School as part of her work as an emissary from Israel.
GREENWICH — Racheli Ben Shimol, 27, came to Greenwich last summer from Israel to share the country’s culture and ideals with the local community.
As part of her work, she hosts the weekly Hebrew Cafe from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Mondays. Participants in the language lesson exchange meet in the UJA/JCC office at 1 Holly Hill Lane.
“Each lesson is a different topic of the language,” Shimol said. “But what is so special about the lessons is that we also talk about Israeli culture.
“For example,” she said, “last Monday in honor of International Women’s Day, we talked about Israeli women leaders and talked about the usages and the differences of masculine and feminine tenses in Hebrew.”
No prior understanding of Hebrew is required, although those attending have varied levels of Hebrew understanding from beginner to advanced. Shimol said it’s all about learning to have a basic conversation over a cup of coffee.
“It is great to see the group learning to build a full sentence in Hebrew and have a light conversation with each other,” she said. “It is a really rewarding experience for all of us.”
Since she arrived, Shimol has been visiting local schools, synagogues and homes teaching Israeli cooking.
“One of the things we are most proud of is that our emissary not only teaches Hebrew, but is able to show the best of Israeli culture — food, high-tech innovations, music, and the diversity and beauty of the country,” said JCC Executive Director Pamela Ehrenkranz.
Shimol said she has learned as much as she’s taught.
“When I came here, I saw the opportunity for girls to read from the Torah (at Carmel Academy),” she said. “This is how we celebrate our bat mitzvah, but in Israel, women don’t usually do this because of Jewish law. A woman can’t do that in front of a mixed crowd of women and men.
“It was the first time I read the Torah, at 27 — 15 years late,” she said. “It was very special.”
To attend, register at jccgreenwich.org. The program will run until June 12, after which Shimol returns to Israel.