I do not consider myself an extremist fundamentalist Jew or anything, but growing up I was always interested in learning Hebrew because my parents had private discussions in Hebrew that I could never comprehend. For many years, I tried to teach myself Hebrew and eventually reached a place where I could read Hebrew, albeit very, very slowly. UMSL does not offer Hebrew courses, and I am here to say that putting a Hebrew course into action would have many benefits. Those who would choose to learn Hebrew may also be interested in Near Eastern studies, another area that UMSL has not developed fully when considering the courses in History that are consistent.
I realize there is a miniscule percentage of Jews on the campus, but take this for a case -- you don't have to be Muslim to learn Arabic. UMSL has some incredibly flourishing departments, so it would be optimal for us to follow UMSL's momentum into unchartered territory, as is such, Hebrew.We could lend a hand in the responsibility of Americans learning languages other than English by offering a language that many students have the curiosity for.
Also, a Hebrew course may attract more international students, especially from Israel or from cities in Europe largely populated by Jews. Of course, the classes would be open to everyone, and having Hebrew classes at a state school is not unheard of. If anything, they make the language program stronger. I am sure that including Hebrew in the curriculum would make academics stronger here, and would open up a whole new category of students who would find attending UMSL appealing. Hebrew also has its Jewish languages counterparts - Yiddish and Ladino. If Hebrew was included in the course catalogue, then students taking Hebrew could form Yiddish and Ladino clubs. Yiddish is basically the German dialect used by Jews and Ladino is the Spanish dialect used by another set of Jews, both for centuries but in different places.
UMSL has so much to offer students in the way of languages - we have Arabic, Japanese, and even Greek. Having Hebrew available to students at UMSL would open up an incredible set of new possibilities - from courses on religion to courses on the middle East, to great interfaith discussions. It may even affect the diversity of the UMSL environment. Basically, including Hebrew at UMSL could shed a whole new light on the availability of courses offered and cultures explored at UMSL. With Middle Eastern studies being the hot topic at this moment, there is no doubt that students could put their lessons in Hebrew, Arabic, and perhaps Middle Eastern and Religious studies to use in the real world.
Having Hebrew courses established at UMSL would serve as a catalyst to greater and broader things. It would open admissions to students who have a primary goal to learn Hebrew and simultaneously be an attractive option to students who have entered and are looking for a Middle Eastern language.
It would eventually create not only the need, but the desire from students and faculty to have Middle Eastern and Religious studies. These fields are truly fascinating, and although you can have a taste of it from the History Department, full departments in these areas is optimal.