Dreaming of the final exam

I have a theory. Technology is to blame for my inability to recall Hebrew.

Thanks to the internet, and Facebook in particular, I have to recall names, places, and events I never would have if it weren’t for technology.

Before people were able to stay connected and reconnect after years of forgetting each other, we had all this extra room in our brains to retain useful data, such as mathematical proofs, measurement conversions, and foreign languages we once learned.

If I didn’t have to use so much of my brain recalling interactions with people I used to share a cubicle with fifteen years ago when I was an intern in Washington, D.C., I just might remember how to say, “Taxidriver, please bring me to the nearest bus station.” Instead, I have to stay home and learn Hebrew with Rosetta Stone, which is useful if you’re interested in buying a map at a Jerusalem gas station, but is not as helpful when you need to confirm with your child’s teacher that he is up-to-date on the required vaccinations.

I’m convinced that the information I once learned studying Hebrew at The George Washington University resides somewhere in the recesses of my brain.  It’s true that I was always more confident reading and writing Hebrew, than speaking it. I never studied abroad in Israel like some of my classmates and friends, so I was never forced into a situation where I was immersed in the language. (Though, I have to wonder if it’s really considered immersion when you’re living at Hebrew University and socializing with the same people you spent the last five years making out with at camp or during BBYO conventions?)

That said, I must have learned something to make it all the way from Hebrew 101 to Advanced Hebrew Literature.  Recently, I even wondered out loud on Facebook to my friend Frayda, who is a clinical hypnotist, if it was possible to use hypnosis to recall three years of a language acquired as an adult. She wasn’t completely sure, but she was game to try it and so was I!

During our session, I was able to recall a small, windowless, dimly-lit classroom; a professor with a long gray beard (“Max Ticktin!” I shouted. “I haven’t thought of that name in years.”); and a xeroxed excerpt of a story from A.B. Yehoshua. When we were finished, I said to Frayda in Hebrew, “By George. I think I’ve got it!”

No, I didn’t. But that would have been something, right? It would have been even better if my head spun around and I shouted out in Aramaic the directions to find the Lost Ark of the Covenant.

While my one session with a hypnotist did not release the flood, it seems to have opened the floodgates. In my dream last night, I spoke a little bit of Hebrew. Nothing fancy. Just a conversation with another mom with whom I was discussing anthroposophical educational philosophies. For sure, the anthroposophical part was English. However, I definitely said the word, “holistit” in Hebrew.


I suppose there is no easy way. I can’t travel back in time and give my three-year-old self Baby Einstein flashcards; or nudge my college-aged self off onto an El Al plane Junior year.  For now, it’s back to imaginary conversations with sophisticated Israeli men and women on my computer. If I’m lucky, perhaps they’ll join me for a cup of tea at a nearby Bet Cafe.


Holistit = holistic
Bet Cafe= coffee shop

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