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September 10, 1993 - Image 146

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-09-10

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Hebrew
classes
at the
Midrasha
impact
on adults'
professional,
personal and
spiritual lives.

Jonathan Schecter decided to learn Hebrew after experiencing embarrassing moments in Israel.

ea k
L a n g tia g e

LESLEY PEARL STAFF WRITER

eir

onathan Schecter
wasn't a very good
Hebrew student.
For his bar mitzvah
in Rochester, N.Y., Jona-
than had his Torah portion
transliterated. He was sus-
pended from class after
flushing his instructor's
keys down the toilet. He
heard shekhet, "quiet,"
often.
Mr. Schecter never envi-
sioned knowing Hebrew
would be of any conse-
quence in his life.
Until the Gulf War.

Mr. Schecter was in Israel
visiting his sister and volun-
teering on a naval base.
At military mealtime, a
soldier told Jonathan the
Hebrew words to ask for his
meal. He approached a
female soldier and repeated
the sentence. As the woman
smiled at Jonathan and
tapped the .45 in her hol-
ster, he was sure he had not
asked for food.
Later, during the same
visit, Mr. Schecter pulled
into a fast-food establish-
ment and ordered burgers

for himself and his young
nephew. After repeating the
order, Jonathan's nephew
threw himself onto the floor
in a fit of giggles. He had
ordered two big, dead rats.
"I knew I needed help,"
Mr. Schecter said.
He returned to his home
in Bloomfield Hills and
started making calls. He
found the Midrasha Adult
Learning Center and began,
like numerous adults in the
community, learning
Hebrew with instructor Geri
Levit.
In the last year Mr.
Schecter has enrolled in two
15-week courses. He boasts
that he only missed one ses-
sion due to his part-time
work as a paramedic.
He's learning to read and
converse slowly and is
thrilled to just know what
Hebrew street signs say.
His biggest problem is find-
ing someone with whom to
practice.
"I write to my niece and
nephew in Hebrew now. But
my vocabulary is limited
and they're getting older. I
don't know if 'Hi. How are
you? I am fine. The flowers

are pretty. See you soon.' is
going to cut it much longer,"
Mr. Schecter said.
Like Mr. Schecter, Liz
Williamson also found her
lack of Hebrew knowledge a
hindrance.
Five years ago, while
working for a company
called American General,
Ms. Williamson dealt exclu-
sively with Israel. Her role
involved shipping kits for
vehicles directly to the coun-
try.
Often, while searching for
missing door handles
between Indiana and Haifa,
Ms. Williamson would hear
her clients speaking in
Hebrew.
"I wanted to know what
they were saying. Was it
about me? The product?"
Ms. Williamson said. "I was
a French major in college, so
I knew I was adept with
languages. I just had to find
a place where I would learn
more than 'Where's the
beach? Where's the King
David Hotel?' "
She also found the
Midrasha, where she has
studied with Geri Levit,
Ahuva Newman and Nira

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