UCL Hebrew & Jewish Studies


Kyoko Hirooka

snapshot of Kyoko in the library
BA Hebrew and Jewish Studies

MA Israel Studies, Hebrew University - studying to become a translator 

Why did you choose Hebrew and Jewish Studies?

I am from Japan where the majority of people have merely a vague idea about who Jewish people are. When I watched the documentary film Shoah, I started wondering what Jewish people have experienced throughout the history.

I chose Hebrew and Jewish Studies at UCL because they offer various courses that focus exclusively on Jewish histories and languages, which are difficult to find in my country. Thanks to the structure of the program, I could dive into the rich world of Jewish history and Hebrew language from day one and immersed myself in them for three years.

What stands out about your time in the Department?

Excellent teachers with the high quality of the courses. They are passionate about what they are teaching. Also, the small size of classes and its intimate atmosphere were my favourite things about the Department. Learning both Biblical and Modern Hebrew definitely encouraged me to come study in Israel now.

Where do you work? What do you do?

I am currently doing M.A. Israel Studies at Rothberg International School in the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Here, I am taking the courses about Israeli culture, history and politics while leaning Modern Hebrew. Jerusalem is unique and the only one place like that in the world so I can experience new things every day.

How did HJS prepare you for your career?

HJS definitely helped me to decide to come to and actually live in Israel. After finishing the 3 year program of HJS I became realise that my knowledge about Hebrew and Jewish history is actually valuable in my country so I wanted to pursue my studies to know more. I am glad that everything I learnt at the Department is relevant to what I am studying now in Israel.

My current aim is to become a translator of Israeli literature. I love translating that makes me feel that I can bridge two different cultures while I am translating. In my country second-hand translations of Hebrew texts are common so I hope to provide good quality Hebrew-Japanese translation. I am sure that Hebrew language skills and the knowledge I acquired at the HSJ will be my strengths to achieve my goal.

What would you say to students thinking of joining the Department?

It is totally worthwhile and I am sure that you will have precious time in the HJS Department.

Anything else you would like to add?

I just want to add that also studying in London is very special thing to do. It is international and will promise you a great cultural experience!