Friday, March 6, 2015
Eisenberg Residents Learn Hebrew
Each Friday morning, a group of eager residents gathers in the Eisenberg Village (EV) synagogue, ready to learn Hebrew. As the senior students enter the classroom they excitedly practice what they've learned in the past. One resident greets her peers with a peppy "Shabbat Shalom!" — a greeting used to wish someone a peaceful Shabbat — and another resident replies, "Ech Holech?" which means "How is it going?" in Hebrew.
After the seniors have settled in, 73-year-old EV resident and volunteer Hebrew teacher Michal Robins calls the class' attention to the board where she has written the words "Shabbat Shalom — Hayom yom shishi." She asks her students, "Do any of you know what this means?" One brave resident raises her hand and says proudly, "Today is Friday." "Excellent!" Michal exclaims. Michal went on to break down the meaning of each word in the sentence, "Hayom means today. Yom means day. Shishi means the sixth day, which is Friday. Put it together and what have you got?" The class answered with enthusiasm, "Today is Friday!"
As the lesson continues, Michal passes out the week's handwritten handouts, sheets of Hebrew words listed next to their meanings. Then Michal explains the meaning of each Hebrew word and helps students create and practice simple, conversational phrases. The seniors excitedly practice their newly learned Hebrew phrases while Michal watches and kindly corrects the students' pronunciation as they practice their phrases.
The Friday morning Hebrew class is one of many engaging activities and programs available to the residents of the Los Angeles Jewish Home. Each activity offered is designed to stimulate the mind, body, and spirit of the seniors. Michal's Hebrew class is an excellent way to facilitate new skills, new interests, and new friendships — all while encouraging learning throughout all of life's stages.
Social worker Thelma Mata considers learning a new language to be one of the best ways to mentally exercise. She explains, "Getting to know a new language is an excellent way for seniors to increase their brainpower. It enhances their ability to juggle tasks and stay sharp. It's also an exercise in memory and engagement."
Myrtle Feenberg, a 99-year-old EV resident, agrees. "I've learned quite a few words and phrases in Hebrew from Michal. I think the class is wonderful! I love coming each week because it stimulates my brain and gives me the chance to learn something new."
The proud teacher is pleased with the progress Myrtle and her other students are making. "Like all languages, it takes people a while to absorb all the new information," says Michal. "It takes time, practice, and repetition — that's why we review at the beginning of each class. Hebrew is a complicated language, but with our weekly exercises the participants are becoming real experts."