The 40 Year Old Bat Mitzvah

Something missing

Posted in learning hebrew by Juliet on October 16, 2010

I have a packet of Hebrew prayers. I have a binder with the prayers and English text in order that it will appear during the service. And then there is what you see above.

That’s my Torah portion. Four of us are dividing a portion of a portion. It’s really only a few lines, when you come down to it. If you say it flawlessly and fluently, it takes maybe a minute or so per person.

The right hand side has the Hebrew with vowels and punctuation.

The left hand side is the exact same text, but as it appears in the Torah scroll we’ll be reading from on December 18.

Something is missing: vowels and punctuation!

Cantor Frank says that if you practice it enough, your brain automatically fills in the blank spaces where the vowels ought to be, so you almost “see” them as you read.

I have yet to experience that kind of helpful hallucination.

I’m trying NOT to memorize it. Everyone tells me it’s better to actually read it, so if I get lost, or lose my place, I can pick up again. Also, if I do the actual hard work of learning to read Hebrew, I’ll be able to read anything I want in the future.

For now, I’m carrying notes like these around and practicing while waiting for the toast to pop (see “Sybil’s Way”) or, as in the photo above, on the sidelines of a soccer game. Today I practiced while sitting on a bench outside the dressing room of Justice. Opportunity marries creativity!


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