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Ulpan Learning Hebrew to Connect with My Israeli Grandchildren

By Robin Goldstein

One of my primary goals in taking Ulpan was to become fluent in Hebrew. When my daughter graduated from college, she wanted to do something different. She went to Israel to teach English through the Masa Israel program for young adults. She met her husband and stayed. She’s been there six years and now has two children, a three-year-old and a three-month-old.

With my daughter and grandkids living in Israel, we visit  Israel regularly. I decided now was the time to begin to learn Hebrew so that when I visit Israel and when I talk to my grandchildren, I am able to converse in their language. I have always enjoyed school. I originally graduated from law school and practiced law for a few years and then ended up going back for a teaching degree. A couple of years ago, I retired from teaching. Truthfully, I was a little intimidated to take Hebrew, since I don’t speak a second language and always felt that learning another language didn’t come naturally to me. However, after taking just one Hebrew College Hebrew session, I gained confidence in my ability to learn Hebrew. The Ulpan program is well thought out and I love that it combines all facets of learning a language—speaking, writing, and listening.

However, what makes the Ulpan class truly come alive is the teacher I have had—Shlomi Zan. Shlomi is a teacher that goes the extra mile for his students. In addition to the regular Ulpan material, he regularly enhances our learning and understanding through supplementary material. In addition, he provides study guides for us online and always mixes class up with some Hebrew challenge games. Most of all, however, Shlomi is patient and always has time to answer any questions that crop up during class.

For the past year and a half, I have been with mostly the same group of students. When I began, we had just moved to the Newton area. Since I am local, if we went back to an in person classroom, it would be fine; however, I am surprisingly equally as happy with our Zoom classes. The transition to remote went smoothly and even in a remote setting, I have been able to get to know the other students in the class. All of the students are supportive and it has been nice to stay with the same group from one session to the next.

A month ago, my husband and I went to Israel to visit our grandkids. For the first time, when we went to a mall, I actually got to ask a few questions to the sales people and to order food from the restaurant. I am looking forward to becoming more fluent in Hebrew so that some day, when I visit Israel, I can engage in daily conversations. But most of all, I look forward to the opportunity to have regular discussions with my grandkids in their primary language—Hebrew.

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