Elie Wiesel has died. Reading the obituaries, the thing that astounds me is the thing that has always astounded me: how young he was. Eighty-seven now, in 2016. I’ve been burying World War II veterans throughout my years of pastoral ministry. How could Wiesel only be 87?
Arabic is an official Israeli language. About half of Israeli Jews have heritages stemming from Arabic-speaking countries. Despite this, only about 10 percent of Israeli Jews understand Arabic well, even though one poll indicated 58 percent of Israelis think it is important to learn the language. The Israeli school system teaches a formal version of the language, not the dialect used on the streets. Gilad Sevitt has attempted to rectify this gap with a series of free YouTube videos teaching Arabic with the name Madrasa (school in Arabic). The language instruction videos have become popular, especially with 18- to 34-year-olds. Palestinians, Jordanians, and Saudis have also used it in reverse, to teach Hebrew. Groups have formed on Facebook and in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to study the videos together (The Christian Science Monitor, July 17).