Before writing anything further on this topic, I apologize to 2 wonderful souls for not publishing this blog as early as I promised and for not writing our conversations in the form of an interview.This is my story of how I met you , J. Freddy Fernandez and aunt Felishia Morah. An incredible story.
Well, a few years back. Nope, actually many many years back, I was introduced to a girl named Annelies Marie Frank and her book the famous ‘The Diary of a Young Girl ‘ by a librarian. Since then, I love the girl, her thoughts and her smile. Reading further more into the topic, I got more interested in Germany, Amsterdam, Jewish diaspora, concentration camps and anything related to World War. Though I don’t particularly believe in rebirth or reincarnation, I get vivid dreams of a strange village, big bungalow, blood sheds and eventually everyone around being killed. I brush it all aside thinking it as a nightmare, until recently I could actually recall the names of places in Germany. That story is for an another day.
Anyway, this blog is nothing related to her or the World War. This is somewhat related to Jewish diaspora and is on how an Indian lady went to meet a few of the people in the Jewish settlement in Cochin to learn to read the Bible in Hebrew. Her name is Felishia Morah. Perhaps, our protagonist is one of the first non- Jewish woman in India who can read and write all the Torah. Torah is the first five books of the Hebrew Bible ‘Tanakh’. Born as the 5th child of a family of 7; which includes her dad, mom, 3 brothers, 1 sister and herself, she was all a happy go lucky lady until she got to read a Bible verse in 2002 that gave her a deep desire to read the Bible in Hebrew.
In 2002, she didn’t take this desire on a serious note. But in 2007, she again got to read the same verse in the bible by chance and she understood it is her destiny. All she wanted was to fulfill her dreams to read the Bible in Hebrew. So, first she met a Jewish businessman who gave her a printout of the Hebrew letters, but how will she learn to read it?.That was just her starting point in the quest of finding the importance of Jewish letters in her life and the fun of reading from right to left. In India, it is very difficult to find someone who can teach Hebrew. The realistic option was to go in search of old generation members of Malabar Jews. The ones who settled in Cochin, followed by the mass Jewish diaspora. Fortunately, she found a lady who helped her on reading and she picked up the nuances slowly. Later, she put all her efforts to learn the language from various sources and most often she would write the words in her mother tongue and then learn it. A few months later, many of the people approached her to learn the Bible in its original form. By teaching continuously, she realized that she is doing something very different and important. If you ask her, she would say; this is what she wants to do her entire life. Her intentions are clear. She wants to read the bible in its original form. She never wanted to master the language. So when she approached the Jewish lady in the Cochin, she gave her a Jewish Bible. Fortunately, Felishia had the patience to compare and learn, both the Bibles.(*Author’s thought, “only passion can lead you to take such extreme task of learning Hebrew words, grammatical use and meanings all by herself.Well, considering the fact that each Bible verse has in-depth meaning, it requires remarkable courage to go forward with her dreams. I appreciate her courage and wisdom).
She has mastered to read 66 books of the Bible in Hebrew. That is the base of what she teaches in her Hebrew classes. When asked, if she wants to read other textbooks in Hebrew, she said, “Nope, all I wanted was to read the Bible and I believe, to master 66 books in the Bible itself will take more than a lifetime. So I have no intentions in reading any other textbooks.” She has read the texts in front of the Jewish people and they have appreciated her for reading it without any mistakes.Now that she can read the Bible in Hebrew, she shared a few apprehensions with me. She shared, “ I find that the Bible verses when translated to other languages, has changed its original meaning. I am worried that it is totally gone diluted. Let me share a major mistake I found, In Hebrew Bible there is a verse, ‘Be light’; but in Tamil translation the meaning got completely changed. In English too, the same verse is read as ‘Let there be light’. See, how the meanings completely got changed. I can point out many such translation errors.And I totally believe that Hebrew texts are the original and truthful ones.”
It is when she points out errors to others, people show interest in her Hebrew Bible Sessions. She started her classes in 2007 and is still continuing successfully. What is interesting to note is that many Indian words and phrases have similar words in Hebrew. Tamil Nagam(Serpant) is Hebrew Nakash, Indian word Kinnaram (*A musical instrument) is Hebrew word Kinnore, Tamil word Thokai(Feather) is Hebrew Thoku.
Apart from her passion for reading and writing in Hebrew, she reads Tamil literature. As they say practice makes perfection, Felicia practices for hours together to gain more ideas and knowledge on the subject.
Supported by an equally talented, great speaker and a gentle husband, she is now all set to start a new session of Hebrew Bible classes in Bangalore. The classes are being conducted on 15th and 16th April, 2019. For further details contact 9600906123. The classes are conducted under the label, ‘House of Education and Research in Bible’. Felicia says if you are a truth seeker, ardent bible reader and lover of languages, you should definitely try it out. Reading in Hebrew sharpens your memory and brain.
(*I met these two incredible souls while sipping my filter coffee in a coffee shop.I sometimes sit and wonder for hours together on connecting figures that pop up in my mind every now and then. I may not be able to find out the reasons behind my strange dreams in this lifetime. However, I don’t believe in coincidences, looks like its an another sign for me to back pack to Hampstead. Would anyone like to tag along?).
Thank You universe for letting me meet Aunt Felishia Morah and the good soul Freddy uncle. My readers now have an amazing story to read.