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India's First Israeli Hebrew Prof Starts on Promising Note.

HEBREW and Arabic Studies being part of the same academic centre may seem unconventional in the backdrop of the Arab- Israel conflict, but the two languages share a common history and contiguous geography, and have several common cultural reference points.

That may explain why JNU's Centre of Arabic and African Studies has become the first institution in the country to offer a course in Hebrew, enrolled programmes Languages.

to non- Achia distinction from JNU, turnout " It and great," an accomplished ( his at Gallery Sarai students Anzi allotted create no contradiction being Arabic because are in process of Hebrew which is also taught as an optional language to students enrolled in the degree programmes of the School of Languages.

The course is also open non- degree students, and Achia Anzi, who has the distinction of being the first professor from Israel to teach Hebrew in JNU, is quite happy about the turnout for the course.

is the first semester for me the response has been great," says the professor who is accomplished artist as well art exhibition, in fact, is on Gallery Threshold in Lado Sarai till March 30.) The students who enrolled for the class, Anzi informs us, exceeded the allotted number, so we had to create two sections. And he sees contradiction in Hebrew being taught at the Centre of Arabic and African Studies because there's a lot in common between the two languages.

Looking at the interest of students in the language, Anzi is hopeful that in the near future JNU will offer diploma and degree programmes in Hebrew. " We are already in the process of developing a Hebrew programme," Anzi says. " We may start with a certificate or diploma course, but at the end of the day, it is for the university to decide, but there is interest among the students and in the University," he adds.

India and Israel share very strong ties, though it's been only 20 years since the two nations established formal diplomatic relations. That, for starters, is one reason for studying Hebrew.

" Language is the most effective way to understand a culture," says Anzi. " The ties between Israel and India are on a solid foundation, and this fact is reflected in the depth of business and other links between the two countries, so knowing Hebrew does have its professional advantages." Anzi had come to India a decade ago. He studied for his BFA and MFA in Sculpture from the University of Rajasthan. He also has a BA ( Hons) in Urdu from the National Council for the Promotion of Urdu.

Asked why he chose to study Urdu instead of Hindi, he offered an interesting explanation: " Spoken Urdu and Hindi are almost the same, but Hebrew is closer to Urdu because it also has Arabic and Persian influences.

Urdu felt like home in a very strange way." Anzi is very excited about the eclectic mix of his class. The class he teaches has students from different backgrounds, including one from a madarsa. " I have a wonderful mix of students," says the artist- professor.

" The classroom experience is incredible because I can speak both Hindi and Urdu." With Anzi's enthusiasm, Hebrew appears all set to go places in the country.

We are in the process of developing a Hebrew programme. We'll start with a certifcate or diploma course, but the final decision rests with the university"

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Geographic Code:7ISRA
Date:Mar 13, 2012

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