Jewish Times Asia March 2015
A Hebrew lecturer from Indonesia
ndonesia may not have diplomatic relations with Israel, but in a wellknown state university in Jakarta, one Muslim woman teaches Hebrew language. Her posture looks like average Indonesian women, slim and tiny sweet lady. When we met for this interview, she wore pale brown hijab to cover her head. Because of her hijab, I know she is Muslim. Awesome! Total surprise! I never thought I would meet with a Muslim lecturer who teaches Hebrew in the capital of Indonesia. Indonesia is the largest muslim country in the world. For many Indonesians they only know the word “Jewish” from The Holy Quran or in the Bible. The Indonesian government only recognises six religions.
was Professor Ihromi, the first doctor of Old Testament’s in Hebrew. Professor Ihromi graduated from the US during that time he was a Bible teacher and also Hebrew teacher for Christians pastors.
They are Islam, Christianity, Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confusius. That is why I was surprised when I met Wiwin Triwinarti, Hebrew lecturer in Centre of
Islamic Studies at University Indonesia (UI) in Jakarta, which is the most well-known state university in the country. Wiwin has been teaching Hebrew for 12 years. She learned and studied Hebrew in UI.
Wiwin, now 52 years old told me she loves linguistics. After she graduated, the Hebrew lecturer asked her to replace one lecturer who studied in another city. She received the offer without knowing how to teach Hebrew. She learned from the main lecturer which
So, in this case you can see the harmonious relationship between three major faiths in the world. We have Muslim teacher, Christian pastor and the language itself: Hebrew. But Wiwin assured me that there are no talks about religion during her class. It is all about language. Wiwin said, “Hebrew is the oldest language in the world, Hebrew and Arabic came from the same root.”
Last year Wiwin was teaching “Hebrew Basic” for 24 students. Students from outside the Centre of Islamic Studies came to join her class and she assured them after 36 classes, they can speak, write and read some words in Hebrew. Her students say that Hebrew is a very difficult language but they want to learn because it could help them in their future careers. The best part of her experi-
Wiwin’s Hebrew books
ence as a teacher is when she searches for some books to learn Hebrew. She told me she often asks for books from her foreign friends. One student gave her one book in Hebrew and Arabic. The book was printed in the US but her student bought it from Egypt when she was there. She asked me if I could help her to get some more books to teach Hebrew. When I asked her, “Do you want to go to Israel?” She replied, “Of course I want to go there. That place uses the language I’m teaching. I want to experience, to practice in its origin place.” Supplied by Monique Rijkers