SOME people pick up a little Hebrew before their bar mitzvahs, or learn Spanish from their mothers, or can speak some Japanese from a semester abroad.
Timothy Doner, 16, is not one of those people. In the fall of 2009, after studying for his bar mitzvah, he decided he wanted to learn modern Hebrew, so he continued with his tutor, engaging in long dialogues about Israeli politics. Then he felt drawn to learn Arabic, so after eighth grade he attended a summer program for college students at Brigham Young University. It took him four days to learn the alphabet, he said, a week to read fluidly.