The Book That Has Affected My Life Most

When I left Japan for Israel in August 2004 to assume an offered position at Department of Hebrew and Semitic Languages, Bar-Ilan University, I sent all my books here. But for some reason I do not remember I left one book at my parents' house. Paradoxically, it is the very book that has affected my life most:

Mansoor, M. 1973. Hebrew Course. London: Linguaphone Institute.

My late grandmother (on my mother's side) bought this book for me as a present for my forthcoming 20th birthday; this was in January 1983, that is, almost 29 years ago (I was born in March 1963). When she asked me what present I would like to receive from her for my 20th birthday, she apparently expected me to ask for a nice suite or something like that. Instead, I asked for the above book as I wanted to learn Hebrew.

One may ask me why Hebrew out of the blue. Although I was born in a small rural town in the north of Japan, I was always interested in other languages and cultures. I even started learning English alone from some audio course (with all the explanations in English), which I had received from a niece of mine, before I started learning it formally at junior high school. I always liked learning this language, but it never occurred to me to study it at the university. I wanted to specialize in some "exotic" but important language in the university. I had some candidates, but in the end I chose Arabic, mainly because I was interested in the Middle East back then, and I did study Arabic as my major in the university. The idea of learning Hebrew was a kind of continuation of learning Arabic because they belong to the same language family.

When I started learning Hebrew from the above mentioned book, I could never imagine that I would end up receiving my PhD in Hebrew linguistics in Israel and teaching it there. Even the wildest imagination would have been able to foresee this. Anyway, a few months after I started to learn Hebrew, I told myself that I would like to dedicate my life to the study of this language. Since then I persevered in the pursuit of my dream, and very fortunately, teaching Hebrew linguistics at an Israeli university is my present occupation. All this started with the above mentioned book. It also reminds me not only of my late grandmother, who bought it for me, but also of my late supervisor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Prof. Shelomo Morag, who turned out to be one of the advisers to this book.

Now I see this book every day. Every time I see it, I am reminded of the days when I started learning Hebrew and the feeling I had back then, of my late grandmother and later supervisor, who affected my life very profoundly, and, of course, of the strange path I have taken in my life.