In TEL AVIV, there is an opportunity to learn a little Hebrew as you walk the streets admiring the street art. Guy Sharett’s Hebrew lessons are taught in a walking classroom, on the streets and alleys of Florentin, his neighborhood here, where new vocabulary words are mixed into an ever-changing curriculum.
“Get out from the TV, start to live,” Mr. Sharett translated one scrawled Hebrew slogan at the start of class one recent evening, trailed by a dozen students thirsty to understand the life of the Tel Aviv street as much as the revived ancient language spoken on it.
He pulled out a little white board to break down the graffiti before him. The first part of the slogan, “Tzay mayhatelevizia,” used the imperative — get out — while “tatchil lichayot,” start to live, was in the future tense. “It sounds to us too pompous and too archaic,” he explained, “so we just use the future.”
Mr. Sharett, 40, has a day job at a television company, but has been giving private Hebrew lessons for several years. The students on his tours want terms they can use in everyday life; many are dropouts from ulpan, the immersion classes that are free for new immigrants. A recent graffiti tour included a Chinese postdoctoral fellow; a 28-year-old Google employee from Rhode Island; a financial analyst and poet who is married to an Israeli; a British teacher who has lived here 20 years; Ms. Sulak, whose 5-year-old daughter slept the entire hour in her stroller; and a Middle Eastern politics professor at the City University of New York who is on sabbatical.
“Street politics is where it’s happening,” said the professor, Dov Waxman, 37. “Most places, graffiti is tagging or art. Here, you can really read the politics. I wander around and look at it myself, but I don’t always understand it all.”