Hebrew College is closed until May 1 for Passover. Chag Sameach!

Alumni When a ‘Little Voice’ tells You to Learn Hebrew

By Joshua Polanski
Rabbi Lev Friedman, Rab`19

“All I remember is I was in shul, I was leading Yom Kippur services, and I had a revelation that said you need to learn more modern Hebrew, so I called Hebrew College and found what was going on,” recalled Rabbi Lev Friedman, who was ordained by Hebrew College in 2018. The “little voice” also mentioned he needed to up his guitar skills. And for those who know Friedman, it comes as no surprise that he followed through on both. “Lev was a great student who was deeply committed to his studies. For some second career students, coming back to classes can be stressful having been away from school for a long time but Lev studied with joy and appreciation,” said Rabbi Dan Judson, dean of the rabbinical school.

“When you’re retired, it’s easy to follow through,” Friedman chuckled.

For nearly 30 years, Lev Friedman owned and managed Kolbo Fine Judaica in Brookline, MA. Since retirement in 2011, Friedman became Rabbi Friedman after receiving his semicha from Hebrew College in 2018 and has been furthering his Hebrew language skills through Ulpan since the beginning of the pandemic. “And before you ask, yes, even rabbis can continue their Hebrew language learning through Hebrew College Ulpan!” said Iris Schor, director of Hebrew College Ulpan. “Some students also take Ulpan before applying to a rabbinical school,” she added.

Friedman has always loved the Hebrew language and spent six months in Israel in 1973, where he studied Hebrew with Ulpan Etzion. “Over the years I lost it, so I’ve made several attempts to regain my Hebrew over the years. Now I’m in [the] Hebrew College Ulpan and it’s been good brain food and has helped me keep up my Hebrew,” said Friedman.

One of those attempts was with Hebrew College when we were located in Brookline. Now that he’s studying again, this time online, Friedman says, “The current program is really strong and engaging. People really want to speak, put themselves out there and make mistakes [and that’s essential].”

“It’s also a lot of fun! Everyone has a good sense of humor, and we laugh a lot. I even told a joke in Hebrew the other day,” said Friedman while laughing.

The interest to dive deeper into the study of Hebrew is something Friedman has flirted with since 1967. “I’ve always liked learning languages, but when the Six Day War happened in 1967, I really wanted to go deeper into the history of Israel and how we got there,” he continued. “The love of Hebrew and the desire to improve those skills comes from the same ancestral place that led me to rabbinical school and a much deeper understanding of Judaism.”

Register for Summer Hebrew College Ulpan classes for all levels by May 30. Classes begin the first week in June. Learn more and register now.

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