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Centennial Hebrew College Hebrew Language Immersion in the 1970s

By Peretz Rodman
Peter Rodman

My first teacher at Hebrew College, which had just shed its old name, was Jacob Rotman, an alumnus from the inaugural class, 1921–1925, if I’m not mistaken. He taught in the טרום-פרוזדור program in the summer of 1969, in which I enrolled at the direction of Dr. Shmuel Nahshon, the Prozdor principal. I was 15 and most of the other kids were about 12, I think.

The program was designed to enable kids in three-day-a-week Hebrew schools (as we called them then) to catch up to the kids in the five-day-a-week עברית בעברית Hebrew schools, and it was designed to be for kids around seventh grade. I had completed ninth grade at Canton High School.

At the end of the summer, when the טרום-פרוזדור kids were meant to have another year of their local Hebrew school, Dr. Nahshon encouraged me to enroll in the Prozdor directly. He recognized my high level of motivation and said, “You’ll manage.”

I did. Four years later, after attending Prozdor for two years and the College for two years, winters and summers, I placed out of summer ulpan at the Hebrew University, and in November of that year passed the פְּטוֹר exam, exempting me entirely from any Hebrew language studies at the university. Such was the intensity of immersion in Hebrew in the Hebrew College of the seventies.

Read more centennial stories on our centennial website.

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