Learning Hebrew online with Tsafi and Rachel in the Citizen Cafe Tel Aviv

I have spent over a year struggling with Assimil, TY Teach yourself modern Hebrew, and Rosetta stone. Not that I did not learn anything, but at some point, I reached the barrier I could not cross. It is not the first language I would have learned by myself, but somehow in Hebrew, I just got stuck. I would go back and reread and restart but eventually, I would stop at the same point.

So I took the Yellow course with Citizen Cafe over Zoom while staying in Germany. Everyday 90 minutes of intensive immersion into the language practicing to speak, to understand, and communicate. See https://www.citizencafetlv.com/

Tsafi Katz

I had Rachel Goldberg and Tsafi Katz as tutors. I do not believe two persons could be more different then these two. Rachel, besides remembering me of my cousin as she has exactly the same expressions, was the calm one, speaking clearly and always having a smile. Tsafi was totally crazy, fun, and hyperactive as if she had a tornado for breakfast and always had a joke in between and a great laugh. Yet though so different both had the same system of teaching, which made the course really effective, because I guess they represent both the modern ways of speaking Hebrew. And I definitely owe these two respect for being such great tutors.

Both would constantly write all new rules and vocabulary in a Google docs file, which you can download and study later on, so to be free to concentrate on the immersion in the spoken language. The homework would allow to practice the new chunks of information before next begin.

Rachel Goldberg

And both would keep pushing you to the edge, but know when to catch you if you would slip. Never ever have I been a good student. As a teacher myself, I would judge me as the worst student in the world. I could never sit in a course without taking a book along to read or often be waked up at the end of the course. It takes quite a lot to keep me animated. And let me say this, never ever have I enjoyed and followed any course as concentrated and engaged as with these two wonderful tutors. And I have seen quite a lot of tutors considering me just completing my fifth degree.

The most important thing which happened to me in this course was that I had all of a sudden insight. I do not know how to explain, but do you know, when you keep studying a language or say a new musical instrument, at some stage all of a sudden, tataaah there it is, you know and feel how naturally a word must mean something, though there is no philological indication that it must mean this. You just hear this word and say, damn, it can only mean this, because it sounds as if it should. I remember this moment, when Rachel asked in English us, how would you say: „when I was a kid I had lots of friends“ or at least something in this direction. It came out of me like a bullet in Hebrew. I do not know why and how, but there it was. This moment, where you know, that you will speak this language at some stage. Rachel even was baffled and said: It sounded as if you have been waiting for all the course for this sentence. And yes it was so. There is this magical moment in a language that you experience only once. I remember having had this with ancient Egyptian, where I dreamed that Tutmosis the III. was sitting with me and correcting my spelling. In Dutch, I woke up after 71 one day of daily learning on my own, with a poem in my mind, which I felt while asleep. This moment is magic and fills you for weeks to come.

What I am trying to say is, that if you ever want to learn Hebrew, I really can recommend the Citizen Cafe Tel Aviv. What an amazing lovely young and motivated team this is. They have transferred not only language, but culture and character. Israel must be proud to have such wonderful young people.

Mamo Hassan