After a long year of dodging the language cracks –
After a hope broken into pieces by constant disappointment –
After a long, painful bureaucratic day of Israeli school –
I found my true-to-the-core university experience at Bar Ilan.
My last professor for today’s hectic schedule is the first professor at Bar Ilan that made me feel like I’m supposed to be a curious, insightful, enthusiastic student. Like I’m supposed to feel… inspired!
He laughed! He smiled! He smirked! He showed emotion! He doesn’t wear a navy blue blazer! He got excited about the books he’s teaching from and actually brought them to class to pass around for us!
Most of my professors have happened to be American so far; and somewhere in the professor-aliyah experience it seems they must become pretentious and uncaring… That they must look down at their students with eyes that read, why are you here? …and even their glaring eyes seem to be trying to perfect their Hebrew and put on a poor Israeli accent, at the risk of none of us actually being able to understand.
But today’s last class’s professor broke that for me. He was so – real. He loved what he was talking about. He loved that we were there. And most of all – he spoke Hebrew imperfectly and didn’t seem to let it get to his ego. He even made funny comments in between sentences in English.
And most of all – when I asked him, obligatorily, for official permission to write my work in English (I’m supposed to out of politeness even though it’s assumed), he didn’t put on a look of disgust or answer me in Hebrew, just to be dafka.
“Ani chayevet livdok… Efshar l’chtov ha’avodot sheli b’anglit?”
And his answer? Why, it was just plain English.
“Yes.” He smiled. “Aval yesh lach mazal she ze anglit; Im ze haya sineet, sephardit oh russit, az ain efsharut.”
And I smiled my first real, grateful smile at a Bar Ilan professor.
With the thesis looming overhead, it’ll be a long year (and probably longer than that). But for just that hour and a half, I felt so… intellectually complete.