On Tuesday, April 12, we held yet another evening of culture – a lecture by Mr. Omar Othman, renowned teacher of Arabic and well-known author Arabic-language books, of for our students of Arabic. For the first time, this lecture was geared to our students in levels one and two. (Previously, events were held for more advanced students.)
Mr. Othman has been teaching Arabic for some 40 years to non-Arabic and non-Hebrew speakers. In simple language (for the students), he told fascinating stories of his life. The 45 students listened, enraptured, throughout the entire presentation and discussion.
He told about his childhood in Beit Safafa, and how his family moved to Bethlehem as a result of the 1948 war. He and his 5 brothers stayed with their mother in Bethlehem while his father traveled to Jordan to work. In 1951 his father returned to Bethlehem, and after much effort, they returned to their family home in Beit Safafa. At that time he went to work in the Mahane Yehuda market as a porter and selling vegetables and herbs in order to help his family’s income. He told about his determination to continue his studies and how, together with his cousin, he traveled from Jerusalem north to Tira in order to become accepted into a high school and how he returned once a month to see his family. He told how he became a teacher in the village of Ein Rafa, a principal in Abu Ghosh (adjacent to Ein Rafa), and at the same time how he finished his B.A. at the Hebrew University and even continued his studies.
Omar eventually returned to teach in Beit Safafa and became the principal of its high school, one of the few in Jerusalem that teaches both the Israeli bagrut track as well as the Jordanian tawjihi track for matriculation (prevalent in East Jerusalem). In 1991 he retired and began teaching Arabic and writing Arabic language instruction books.
“Omar has dedicated much of his time and energy in teaching the Arabic language, and his story inspired us all,” said Orna, one of the participants.
Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for their continuing support of this program.