The Frankel Center
Hillel Hebrew teacher retires after sharing
her lifelong love of learning with her students.
Judaic Studies salutes the
forty-four students in
2013 who chose it as a
major or minor, as well as
the several thousand who
enrolled in a course this
year. When students take
a course or two, or decide
to concentrate in Judaic
Studies, they add fresh
dimensions to their
Judaic Studies at the
University of Michigan
offers opportunities to
students from all
backgrounds and faiths to
study Jewish history and
culture, religion and
politics, and to master
Jewish languages, both
Yiddish and Hebrew.
But Judaic studies do
even more: courses
introduce students to
different ways of looking
at the world, expanding
their horizons. Judaic
Studies launches students
onto paths of discovery
that help them make
sense of the world today.
MAZEL TOV to our
Retiring Hillel teacher Elana Adler with some of her first-grade students.
— Deborah Dash Moore
Frederick G.L. Huetwell
Professor of History,
University of Michigan
Jean of Samuel
Center for Judaic Studie
© 2011 Regents of the University of Michigan
16 May 23 • 2013
well-known quote explains:
"The mediocre teacher tells.
The good teacher explains.
The superior teacher demonstrates.
The great teacher inspires:' Label Elana
Adler, "the great teacher:'
For the past 25 years, she has been an
inspiration and mentor to her students
and colleagues at Hillel Day School in
Farmington Hills. She retires from 45
years of teaching, with 25 of those at
Hillel, at the end of this academic year.
Adler always knew she wanted to be
a teacher, but did not think her dream
could turn into reality.
"When I moved from New York to
Detroit, after being born and raised in
Israel, I stayed with my cousin Lola:
Adler said. "She asked me what I wanted
to do now that I am living in Detroit.
I told her I would love to teach, but
I can't. I had kids of my own and my
husband worked, so I didn't know how I
would be able to balance both teaching
and my family life.
"Lola said she would help me. She
told me I would be a very good teacher
and that I must have hope. I listened,
went to pursue my dream and have
loved it ever since:'
Adler's teaching career began in 1967
at United Hebrew Schools, a system that
served Jewish children in Detroit and
the suburbs many years ago. Adler also
taught Hebrew at Congregation B'nai
Moshe and Adat Shalom Synagogue.
When United Hebrew Schools
closed, she was offered a job at Hillel
Day School in Farmington Hills and
ever since has been teaching first- and
second-grade Hebrew, which includes
reading, writing, speaking, prayers,
learning about the Jewish holidays and
She does not waste any time into the
classroom, and is ready to teach the
minute the bell rings and the kids file
in the classroom. She is always striving
for her students to succeed and learn
something new each day.
Adler's creativity came into play
when she introduced "Torah cards" to
the student body. Every time a student
answers a question correctly or reads
aloud in class, they receive a Torah
card. Each Torah card has a story from
the Bible on the back. She has used
Torah cards for many years and finds
them a great incentive to get students
to push themselves.
"I was known as the teacher who
gives out Torah cards:' Adler said.
"My students collected books of them
through the years. Students of mine
who are now in their early 30s give
their children their Torah cards to
show me. It's wonderful:'
Former student Carly Cykiert of
Farmington Hills, now a student at
University of Michigan, said, "I still
have my Torah card from when I was
her student at Hillel. I learned so much
from her and will continue to use what
she taught me in Hebrew class for the
rest of my life:'
Joys Of Teaching
Being a teacher for so long has taught
Adler a lot about who she is, she says.
Teaching has taught her patience and
tolerance. Teaching also has shown her
how wonderful it is to be able to teach
young students about their religion.
"It is such an uplifting moment to see
the students learning and, all of a sud-
den, they have grasped the concept and
can speak to you and read to you:' Adler
said. "They go from knowing nothing
to slowly learning more and more about
Hillel teaching colleague Marcia
Seigerman said, "Wherever Elana was,
there were children. She had a glow
about her that is beyond description.
She is so full of life, enthusiasm and
spirit. She has touched the souls of
so many children. She is going to be
missed by everybody:'
After retirement, Elana plans to take
piano lessons, something she has always
wanted to do but never had the patience
or time for. She also plans to continue
taking classes in rabbinical studies. She
hopes to travel with her husband and
visit her family in Israel.
"I love all the children and am going
to miss them dearly:' Adler said. "They
are like the sunshine of my life. I am
definitely going to miss my colleagues as
well. They have become lifelong friends
"I want to thank everyone I worked
with through all these years. I enjoyed
each and every moment and will miss
teaching very much:'