I recently found a YouTube channel called Piece of Hebrew and I’m a little bit addicted. I’ve been making YouTube lists for everything lately, for videos about Jewish history and Israel for the teenagers at my synagogue, for guided meditation and exercise videos for me, for Hebrew language shows of all kinds for me (and for any of my students who eventually want to improve their Hebrew). And each time I find one good thing, I find ten more that are sort of on topic, or not really, like videos to add background to my Jews around the World curriculum (there were a ton of virtual tours during Covid), and videos to help people plan trips to Israel (I found a really good Israeli tour guide whose videos are helpful and entertaining), and, of course, as soon as we watch a new show in my online Hebrew class I have to go to YouTube to see if I can find more episodes (there’s a great series about Israeli chefs in cities around the world and a bunch of the episodes are on YouTube, with Hebrew subtitles).
So, somewhere in there I found the Piece of Hebrew videos, hosted by an Israeli Hebrew teacher named Doron, where he talks about Israeli musicians and TV shows and movies, all in Intermediate level Hebrew with English subtitles. And then I watched some episodes that included Elsa, his live in girlfriend who made Aliyah to Israel four years ago from France and became fluent in Hebrew, and then I found out that she has her own YouTube channel called Piece of French, which is in intermediate and advanced French and all about her life in Israel, and in France, and on vacation, and with her family.
So now I have five or six pages of links to videos, all of which I want to watch right now. Part of the fun is getting to know the two of them and their dog, Bilhah, and how they met, and how and why they started their channels, and then what their lives are like in Israel on a daily basis: with videos on gardening and shopping and camping and whining about random things, all in French or Hebrew, with English subtitles.
My current online Hebrew teacher was even mentioned in one of Doron’s videos, listing his five favorite Israeli female singers, which probably encouraged me to watch more videos early on, now that I think about it.
Of course, now I feel like I’m way too far behind in my French, much farther behind than I thought I was, and I worry that I’m not far enough ahead in Hebrew either, and I should be watching these videos for hours every day to improve. And I’m already overwhelmed with my actual work, and trying to figure out how to get everything done between naps, which is probably why I got so deep into the YouTube videos in the first place, because I could watch them on my phone, lying down.
It’s so nice that the world has adapted to my chronic exhaustion by providing so much passive entertainment, but I wish I could be well enough to actually go to France and Israel (and Italy and Spain and Japan…) and see everything firsthand. Especially the food. I’d really, really like to taste all of the food for myself.
If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out my Young Adult novel, Yeshiva Girl, on Amazon. And if you feel called to write a review of the book, on Amazon, or anywhere else, I’d be honored.
Yeshiva Girl is about a Jewish teenager on Long Island, named Isabel, though her father calls her Jezebel. Her father has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with one of his students, which he denies, but Izzy implicitly believes it’s true. As a result of his problems, her father sends her to a co-ed Orthodox yeshiva for tenth grade, out of the blue, and Izzy and her mother can’t figure out how to prevent it. At Yeshiva, though, Izzy finds that religious people are much more complicated than she had expected. Some, like her father, may use religion as a place to hide, but others search for and find comfort, and community, and even enlightenment. The question is, what will Izzy find?