For many years the Israel Broadcasting Authority has broadcast a short radio program entitled “A moment of Hebrew”. Twice during the festive period, an interview was broadcast with Father David Neuhaus about the Hebrew speaking Catholic communities. Father David was helped by Brother Yohanan Elihai in composing the content of the broadcast.
The first program was broadcast on December 25, 2014, Christmas Day:
Menahem: Hello, this is Menahem Peri and with me, on the occasion of Christmas which is approaching, is Father Dr. David Neuhaus, Latin Patriarchal Vicar in Jerusalem, a lecturer in Biblical studies and Christianity, the writer of many articles in this field and also responsible for the Hebrew speaking Christian communities. What are these communities, Father Neuhaus?
Father Neuhaus: The Hebrew speaking Catholic communities will celebrate the 60th anniversary since their establishment next year. They were established by a diverse group of Israelis and among them Christians and their children who immigrated to Israel, righteous among the nations who came to live in Israel, Christians who chose to live and work in Israel and all these spoke Hebrew in their daily life – among them also many men and women religious. Hebrew is the language of the state and of society and therefore it was natural that the Christians living among the Jewish people in Israel would begin to pray in Hebrew and express their faith in the language which became their daily language. In recent years, others have joined the Hebrew speakers, migrant workers, asylum seekers and among them those who have established families here and whose children study among us, in schools and they too speak Hebrew like all the Israelis. There are also Christians, Arabic speakers in their origin, who transfer their residence for various reasons to live in Jewish areas, mainly for reasons of employment, who are included today among the speakers of Hebrew. Herzl (founder of political Zionism) and Ben Yehuda (initiator of modern spoken Hebrew) did not think about this but in reality today Hebrew is also the language of a Christian minority, the language of their prayers and the expression of their faith.
Menachem: Thank you, Dr Neuhaus and happy feast!
The second program was broadcast on Sunday, January 4, 2015, the Feast of the Epiphany.
Menachem: Hello, this is Menachem Peri and Father David Neuhaus, Latin Patriarchal Vicar in Jerusalem and responsible for the Hebrew speaking Christian communities. Father Neuhaus, how do you deal with the lack of Hebrew words in order to transmit your faith to the next generation of Hebrew speaking Christians?
Father Neuhaus: The challenge of translating the terminology of the Christian faith into Hebrew for Hebrew speaking Christians continues to occupy us. We are having this very conversation in a period that we call (in Hebrew) “Tsippiyah” – Advent in English – the weeks that precede Christmas, during which we “metsappim” – anticipate – the coming of Christ. Another example is the word “ammai”, which translates thae term “lay person”, a person from amongst the assembly who is not ordained to serve in the liturgy. The “ammai” is one of the people of God, just as a “turrai” – regular soldier – is one of a platoon of soldiers. The “ammai” takes care of the people of God, nurturing it. The ending in Hebrew “ai” signifies a task and a belonging. Another innovation that we adapted to our needs is the word “hohadah” (communion). This is derived from the Hebrew root “y.h.d” (to be together), almost a twin brother of the root “’.h.d.” (to be one). “Hohadah”, the same form as “holadah” (to engender), is the act by which the believer consumes the holy bread and drinks from the chalice of wine, being the Body of Christ and His Blood for this believer. Jesus “mohid” (gives us communion) and we “nohadim” (we receive communion). Thanks to the disciples of Ben Yehuda in our Christian communities, we invest energies in Hebraicizing our language and thus we underline our roots in the Land of Israel.
Menachem: Thank you, Father Dr. David Neuhaus.