Let’s NOT talk about Corona

December 14, 2021 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Imagine weekly conversations, with a broad range of fascinating speakers, attended by hundreds of people where only one topic is off-limits – the global pandemic.

Yoni Rechter and Ohan Rein

And then imagine that the whole conversation took place over Zoom, completely in Hebrew, and reaching audiences across Australia and indeed around the world.

This was the reality for six amazing lectures and discussions in Hebrew which started at the end of September, during the height of lockdown in parts of Australia, and continued through until November once the lockdowns were lifted.

Presented by the Zionist Federation of Australia’s “Habayit” – the home of Israeli and Hebrew culture – “Let’s NOT talk about Corona – conversations in Hebrew that do good”, began with a simple aim – to bring Israel closer to the community in Australia, at a time when travel to Israel was not possible and many Israelis were feeling the distance due to the long period of lockdown and separation from their families and homes in Israel. Habayit’s co-ordinator Hallely Kimchi identified that the lockdowns were a challenge for the “Israeli cultural DNA”. She said, “whilst we couldn’t   change the reality – particularly in Melbourne – we could  change peoples’ mindsets through intellectual engagement and by reconnecting them with Israeli culture through a brilliant range of iconic and unique presentations.” With language being such an important element of the connection to home, sessions in Hebrew were the perfect antidote.

Etgar Keret

The online sessions were free and open to all Israelis and Hebrew-speakers in Australia and around the world, and more than 500 people participated in the sessions, with overwhelmingly positive feedback. The conversations all differed in their focus – from Anat Yahalom – who was the only female Israeli soldier severely wounded in the Yom Kippur war and who shared her inspirational story – to Gil Hovav – who brought his wonderful sense of humour to his presentation:  adventures of a food critic. There was also a session on the Kabalah with Nathan Wolsky, a conversation with “Dr Ninja” Michael Herling on how to achieve “animal-like” fitness at any age, a fascinating talk between famed Israeli singer Yoni Rechter and Ohad Rein and the final session with world-renowned Israeli author Etgar Keret.

This project was supported by the Department of Hebrew and Culture of the World Zionist Organisation and presented by the ZFA’s Habayit  with the support of Zionism Victoria.

One participant from WA wrote, “the zoom sessions were excellent. I enjoyed listening to the different lecturers who presented in the program. It was fantastic – interesting, innovative, refreshing and much more. Thank you to Habayit for a successful initiative that reconnected me to my “Israeliness” and the richness of language. What a shame that this project had to come to an end – I will miss the Thursday Hebrew sessions very much!”

For more information on ZFA’s Habayit – the home of Hebrew and Israeli culture – contact: habayit@zfa.com.au


One Response to “Let’s NOT talk about Corona”
  1. Ian Light says:

    English subtitles for intermediate learners would be good also

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