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December 31, 1993 - Image 27

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-12-31

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

I TWO for $2.00!

1994 DeVILLE

Shulamit Katznelson, founder-director of Ulpan Akiva.

Russian student come to a
road-block in communica-
tions, the teacher may run to
another room during the
break to bring another Russ-
ian speaker in to get things
on track again. Hand and fa-
cial gestures also get some
points across when words
don't suffice.
Our class included four
Russian students: Alla, a
slender redhead; her 21-year-
old son, Daniel; Alexander
and Sergei. Nina Fabreceos,
20, is a volunteer from Den-
mark who came to Israel on
a whim, then found true love
at Kibbutz Sassa in the
north. The kibbutz sent her
to Ulpan Akiva.
Gershon Berbeck, a Hol-
lander, with no family, has

"It was Ulpan
teachers who
prepared the way
for the aliyot from
Russia and
Ethiopia. We were
ready."

long been a wandering Jew.
Now in his 50s, he has spent
time in Europe and Africa,
the last four years in Mozam-
bique, working as a city plan-
ner for the Dutch diplomatic
corps.
"Hebrew will be helpful.
I've tried to learn it before,"
he said.
"But meeting the diverse
people here, especially the
new immigrants, is the most
exciting aspect."
Ulpan teaching is "my
way" said Sara Groman, al-
ways available to tutor some-
one who needs a little boost
and a lot of drill. In 1945,
when Ethiopians in number

came to Palestine, she
worked 10 months, some-
times double-time, with those
early newcomers. "You had to
teach them to hold a pen and
write in a notebook," she said,
adding she taught Ethiopians
again in a more recent aliyah.
"Teaching in an ulpan is
like teaching elementary
school for adults. It's a spe-
cial kind of work. You need to
incorporate all the ways and
senses a person needs to
learn a new language. In or-
der to read, to cope, we sing
and dance; we use the little
groups of the Chasidim in the
shtetl; we read together and
use drama in the class, going
back to previous methods."
Before 1948, there were no
ulpans in the country and not
until 1970 were they orga-
nized and instituted, she ex-
plained. "Akiva is a special
example. And it was ulpan
teachers who prepared the
way for the aliyiot from Rus-
sia and Ethiopia. We were
ready."
When Jack and I received
certificates for our work in
Class A along with our peers,
we knew we had taken a tiny
step toward the Hebrew lit-
eracy we crave. And we real-
ize that the friendships we
made were equally enriching.
Into our luggage we packed
the names and future ad-
dresses of our classmate
friends.
Yardena, who encouraged
us, chastised us, sang with us
and taught with every bit of
body language at her com-
mand, summed up her feel-
ings in a painful farewell
message.
"We study more than a lan-
guage. This is a drive to
maintain the connection be-
tween people. We can open
only a little window, plant a
small tree and do our best to
help it grow."

When not in an Ulpan, the
Idens reside in West Bloom-
field. LI

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