If you teach Biblical Hebrew in a seminary, university, or college, you might consider attending TALMID 2017, a workshop in communicative pedagogy for Biblical Hebrew. I would love to participate, but cannot for reasons of both cost and scheduling; however, I have previously attended two similar workshops, one by the CoHeLeT Project (with some of the same leadership team as TALMID) and one by the Biblical Language Center. Adopting communicative teaching/second language acquisition techniques has transformed my experience of teaching Biblical Hebrew, and all for the better (though not without growing pains). At any rate, I recommend the experience!
At the Biblical Hebrew Instructors Fluency Workshop that I’m currently attending, participants customarily choose Biblical Hebrew names to use during the sessions. One suggestion given during the orientation dinner was to choose a name that begins with the same sound as your given name. I took that suggestion a little bit further and chose the name כּוֹרֶשׁ (Koresh), which has consonant sounds relatively close to Chris. It’s possible that you’ve only heard the name Koresh in connection with cult leader David Koresh, of “Waco standoff” fame. Koresh is actually the Biblical Hebrew pronunciation of the name of the Persian king we call in English “Cyrus the Great.” Isaiah 45:1 famously refers to Cyrus as God’s “anointed one,” or messiah. So I guess that choosing the name Koresh could invite charges of messianic delusions.
However, there’s a quasi-wordplay that might mitigate such charges. The Greek word equivalent to “messiah” is Χριστός (Christos), which comes across into English as “Christ.” My given name, Christopher, derives from a compound of Χριστός and the Greek word φέρω (ferō), which means “I bear, I carry.” Therefore my name means something like “one who carries the messiah.” The legend of St. Christopher plays on this sense of the name with its story of St. Christopher carrying the Christ child across a dangerous river. So given that plus the phonological coincidence of “Chris” and Koresh, I think maybe my choice could be considered a kind of pun rather than mere grandiosity.
Teaching Hebrew in Hebrew at the rate of natural speech offers advantages in efficiency, attainment levels, and broader student success throughout the various stages of language learning. This workshop is designed to help Hebrew teachers bridge the gap between traditional Biblical Hebrew training and immersion methodologies.
Second Language Acquisition studies have shown that speaking a language is a catalyst for truly internalizing a language. In addition to maximizing internalization, the workshop will also work on skills necessary for effectively applying Communicative Language Teaching methods to the classroom. The workshop will be run “immersion” style, with the entire day, 8:45 AM to 5:00 PM, including lunch, taking place in Biblical Hebrew.
If any Higgaion readers are attending the workshop, then I look forward to seeing you there tomorrow evening!
As for the titular question, Fresno is the Spanish name for the ash tree, which in (Modern) Hebrew is מֵילָה. But I’m guessing that a Californian speaking Hebrew would still probably just call the city פְרֶסְנוֹ.