Ulpan Joining Hebrew College Ulpan from Atlanta

By Michelle Young
parsha pinata

I have the best job in the whole world. I teach Judaics to preschoolers and kindergarteners at The Epstein School, a Jewish day school in Atlanta. For the past nine summers, I have worked at Camp Barney Medintz, a Jewish overnight camp in Georgia. My professional and personal life is full of Jewish circles. So, in my daily experience, I use a lot of Hebrew—I use it at work every day—and recently, I realized that I wanted to learn more, to expand my vocabulary, and to improve my conversational skills. Quarantine seemed like the best time to start.

One of the rabbis at my synagogue (Temple Sinai) suggested the Hebrew College Ulpan program and I looked into it. Because everything is on Zoom, it doesn’t matter that I’m in Atlanta and my classmates are in Massachusetts. I’ve met some really nice people who are all at the same Hebrew level. Shlomi, our teacher, is so supportive, always willing to enrich our learning and to make it relevant. He understands where we are coming from, what each of us needs, and where to give us support. I’ve felt very welcomed in the class, and truly, geography really doesn’t matter.

I first studied Hebrew through an Ulpan in Israel, soon after graduating from college. I grew up attending Hebrew School in Philadelphia, and graduated from Penn State University with a degree in Secondary Education. I wanted to become an English teacher until I spent a year in Israel, and realized my passion was in Jewish education. I earned a master’s in Jewish Education and Jewish Studies from Baltimore Hebrew University, and ever since then I’ve worked in the Jewish community—in Pittsburgh, New York, and most recently, Atlanta. I have worked at JCCs, the Covenant Foundation, The UAHC Press (now URJ), and for the past 13 years, at The Epstein School in Atlanta.

Since beginning Hebrew College Ulpan, I’ve asked a select group of Israeli teachers at school to speak to me and text me only in Hebrew, so I can extend my learning beyond my Ulpan class. It has made me a more confident Hebrew speaker, and I feel like I’m just learning so much. My daughter is now hoping to spend a high school semester in Israel, and I can’t wait to visit Israel again too! I’m also considering going to rabbinical school in the future.

I would 100 percent recommend this program. Atlanta has a strong vibrant community and so many amazing institutions. I could have looked here for Hebrew classes, but this was really so easy. I was placed in the right class and I felt so comfortable. Perhaps, eventually, it may become impossible for me to continue this class if it moves to in-person, but for as long as the online option remains possible, I’m going to continue to sign up. You should, too!

Michelle Young

Michelle Rose Young is a Jewish Educator living in Atlanta, GA. She works at The Epstein School in Sandy Springs, GA as the Judaics Coordinator for the Early Childhood Program. She has a background in Jewish Education and holds dual Masters Degrees from Baltimore Hebrew University and an undergraduate degree in English Secondary Education from The Pennsylvania State University. She has worked in a variety of Jewish communal settings in New York, Pittsburgh, and Atlanta. She loves telling Torah stories to young children, baking challah every week, and introducing all things Jewish to preschoolers and their families. She has three children, ages 20, 19, and 16, and lives with her husband, Rick, in Sandy Springs, GA.         
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