Israeli-Arab elementary school teacher Jehan Jaber is an unlikely star
h/t Washington Post by
Jehan Jaber is an unlikely star. An elementary school teacher from a small Arab town in central Israel, Jaber uses a darbuka (Arab drum) and a simple chant to teach her students the Hebrew language.
And, it has caught on. In a big way.
Little more than a week after a crudely made video filmed by one of her young students was uploaded to YouTube, the Hebrew teacher of 17 years has become something of a social media sensation.
Her tune “Geshem Geshem Mitaftef” (translated as “rain, rain, dripping”), which repeats itself allowing the children to sing along, is now the third most popular clip in Israel on the video sharing site. It has nearly a million views.
And, it has drawn not a few copycats: From some of Israel’s popular musicians and comedians to a battalion of Israeli soldiers and even wedding party guests, people can’t stop humming “Geshem Geshem Mitaftef.”
Arabs make up roughly 20 percent of Israel’s overall population and Arabic is the main language of instruction in Arab schools. While the language is one of Israel’s official tongues, to manage day-to-day one needs to also know Hebrew. Arab-Israeli children learn the Hebrew language starting in grade school.
In Jewish schools, Arabic is also taught but is not compulsory. And while Arab culture — music, food and dance — is embraced in Israel, it is unusual for a small piece of Arabic culture to go viral in this way.
The video of Jaber singing her tune, which celebrates rainfall in the arid Middle East, was uploaded to YouTube on Feb. 22. She quickly garnered a wide following. A few days later, she was interviewed by Israel’s Channel Two News and ever since Israelis can’t get the song out of their heads.
In the television interview, Jaber tells host Oded Ben-Ami that she came up with the idea for the song after looking for new, fun ways to teach Hebrew to her students. She had to get approval from her school’s principal to bring the darbuka into the classroom.
“I did not put the video on the Web. I just filmed myself to see how I could improve my teaching methods. I sent it to a friend, and then suddenly it went viral,” Jaber said.
Israeli children are humming it in school nonstop and a popular children’s toy store just announced dress-up costumes of the teacher for the forthcoming Jewish festival of Purim.
A unit of Israeli army soldiers even filmed themselves singing along to the song — using table tops and desks to bang out the beat — during one of their breaks.