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Our partners. Ulpan Halom

!

Ulpan Halom, St.-Petersburg


Official name: "Society for Hebrew Studies", founded in 1990, registered with the Ministry of Justice of Russia as a community association on 29.12.1991 (registration # 426) – specialized school of Hebrew for adults with two types of language training programs: ordinary and intensive courses.


The students graduating from the intensive courses receive the Certificate of Israel ulpan from the Ministry of Education of Israel. Total number of students varies from 250 to 450. 16.000 students studied Hebrew in Ulpan Hlom during 14 years of its existence; 80% of graduates moved to Israel and they have no language problems during absorption. All education is free of charge.


Earlier (in 1990-1997) Ulpan Halom also used to conduct a number of seminars for Hebrew teachers from all parts of the country and sent its teachers of Hebrew to remote municipalities.


In Ulpan Halom Jewish Holidays are celebrated as a part of program of studies, there is Library (with Russian and Hebrew literature), Clubs of Hebrew Literature and Conversational Hebrew. In 2003 the Hebrew language amateur theatre “Sfat-Halom” (“Language of Dream”) was organized in Ulpan Halom. The members of Knesset who visited Ulpan Halom in April 2004 invited Ulpan Halom leaders and the theatre group to visit Israel and to give in Knesset the performance dedicated to pioneer of revival of Hebrew Eliezer Ben-Yehuda and to difficult ways of revival of Hebrew in the former Soviet Union. The Play was written by Ulpan Halom members.


This trip took place in January 2005. The Delegation included leaders of Ulpan “Halom” Felix Fainberg and Grigory Levin, theatre producer Alexander Birulya and six actors – students of Ulpan “Halom”. On January 4, 2005 the performance of “Sfat-Halom” theatre took place in Knesset. After that the special session of Knesset dedicated to memory of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda was carried out. Relatives of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda were at the performance and at the special session. In his Talk at this special session of Knesset Prime-Minister of Israel Ariel Sharon highly appreciated the art of Ulpan “Halom” theatre. It must be also noted that “Sfat-Halom” is the only Jewish theatre in Diaspora playing in Hebrew.


During the first years of its existence Ulpan Halom was supported by Lishkat-a-Kesher and the Doron Foundation. During many years it was supported and is continued to be supported by Norwegian organization Help Jews Home. Beginning with 2002 essential support is provided by Jewish Agency.


Founders of Ulpan Halom and its permanent leaders:

Felix Fainberg, President,

Grigory Levin, Director


191123 Russia S-Petersburg P.O.BOX 103 Ulpan "Halom"

tel. 812-2751465 fax. 812-2756103

e-mail: ulpan@narod.ru


February 2005

16 February 2011 – Grigory Levin’s 80 years.

We warmly congratulate Grigory Levin, Ulpan “Halom”’s Executive Director, with his 80-years jubilee and our gift is the Article “Saving Jewish Identity and Free of Charge Hebrew Online” which key words are: “Grigory M. Levin is young and strong guy who celebrates his FIRST 80 years on February 16, 2011”


Boris Altshuler

and all Team of the Web-site “Haverim”


Saving Jewish Identity and Free of Charge Hebrew Online

The Project of the Free of Charge Internet-School of Hebrew described below was developed about 3 years ago by Grigory Levin (Executive Director of Ulpan “Halom”, Sankt-Peterburg) and the Web-site “Haverim”. To check-up the idea and also naively believing that we’ll manage to realize it we announced at the Web-site Haverim (the only public Zionist Web-site in Russia with about 300 visitors per day) the preliminary enrollment to the Internet-School.


The reaction was astonishing! Many applications from Russian-speaking potential students were received: “I want very much to learn Hebrew but can not go to Ulpan because of small child”; “Because of transportation problems (I am disabled) I can not go to real ulpan. I want to study Hebrew through internet”; “It is a fantastic possibility for me to study Hebrew since having two small children I can not go to Ulpan”; “Shalom lekulyam! I have a small child and your courses is the only possibility for me to learn Hebrew”; “Hallow! I am new repatriate and will be glad to enlist to your courses. Thank you in advance”; “I want very much to perform Aliyah to Israel, and I need to know language for that. That is why I ask you to enroll me to the list of your students”; … etc. Our work is focused on the Russian-speaking Diaspora, but we are sure that English-language Jewish World will show not less interest in this possibility. And it is expected that AFTER lessons begin the number of pupils will increase enormously.


Unfortunately we did not manage to realize the Project after all, and we apologized before the applicants expressing the hope for better circumstances in future. But we like the idea and consider it quite promising. I just quote the Grigory Levin’s words: “We did not do it. But we would be happy if JAFI or somebody else will realize the idea”.


There are plenty of Hebrew-learning materials in Internet. But, as to our knowledge, there are no free lessons of Hebrew with systematic mutual pupil-teacher interaction, all existing online Hebrew-colleagues are paid for, which is quite natural since teachers must be paid for their hard and responsible work. Thus the priorities of our Project were: (1) to make the School technically available for most wide Jewish public, and (2) to make the budget of the free of charge School as small as possible which will permit to support its stable work with relatively small sponsorship.

Teaching was planned to be carried out in a form of 30-minutes voiced slide-lectures of Hebrew, including exercises and homework, which will be placed in internet one-by-one every two weeks; the Course for beginners was planned to include 30 lectures during 15 months. Teachers’ individual work with students (examination of their homework, counseling, etc.) must be fulfilled in-between the lectures with use of e-mail.


The choice of the voiced slide-lectures, not film-lessons, was motivated by the necessity to decrease as much as possible the “weight” of every lecture. Thus the preparatory stage of the Project must include the creation of new type of text-book of Hebrew – “Voiced slide-text-book” where combination of teacher’s voice and changing pictures is a main tool of teaching.


The absence of payment and the low “weight” of the voiced slide-lectures could make, according to our idea, this Internet-School accessible practically for any user.


The great inspiration for us was the new strategy of JAFI to develop Jewish identity building in Diaspora, including studying Hebrew in Diaspora, declared by Natan Sharansky in 2010: “In this world of post identity, we Jews are especially in danger because of assimilation and the weakening of the connection to our roots and to our tradition”, — from his Acceptance Speech as Chair of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel.


In January this year I wrote about our Project to Natan Sharansky, with whom we were in the same Soviet dissidents’ circles in 1970-s, and who I met on 5 December 2009 in Kremlin at the ceremony of the “Man of the Year 5769” Award given by The Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia. He was an Awardee as “Man of a Legend” and I was awarded “For many years public activity and humanitarian actions in favor of children”.


3 weeks ago I received quite a detailed reaction from JAFI to our Hebrew-online idea from Rina Zaslavsky, Director of the Educational Department of JAFI for CIS and Baltic states. Their estimation of the budget of the online School of Hebrew was high — about 1 million USD per year, the conclusion was that our proposal is unrealistic. However the budget of our Project was 15 times less. Perhaps this drastic difference in the cost of the School may be explained by the difference in approach: JAFI considered direct video-lectures which is possible only for small groups, hence it demands plenty of teachers. We on the contrary proposed “asynchronous” form of studying.


It is well known that great corporations are usually quite conservative and blind to innovations. That is why we decided to share the idea with wide public. Yes, Natan Sharansky is right — broadening of studying of Hebrew is among the strongest anti-assimilation tools. Also this eliminates the most serious language barrier for the personal decision To Go. 70% (12.000 in 10 years) of graduates of Ulpan “Halom” performed Aliyah, although at the beginning most of them decided to study Hebrew “just for fun”. This shows that approach described above possesses great potential and we sincerely hope that somebody will be interested in these ideas and realize them.


About Ulpan “Halom” and its founders (Sankt-Peterburg http://www.halom.ru ).

Grigory M. Levin is young and strong guy who celebrates his first 80 years on February 16, 2011. Together with his senior fellow Felix S. Fainberg (President of Ulpan “Halom”) they organized underground studying of Hebrew in Former USSR back in 70-s, 80-s. They officially registered Ulpan “Halom” in December 1991 (two weeks after decay of USSR) and eventually developed it into the most effective Hebrew-colleague. There was a flood of new young pupils to Ulpan “Halom” in the last Fall of 2010, there are 240 pupils of “Halom” now. The studying is free of charge. The work of Ulpan “Halom”, as well as the work of web-site Haverim, is supported by our good and many-years friends from Hjelp Jodene Hjem (HJH — Help Jews Home, Norway); HJH also realizes many project in Israel in support of Olim Hadashim. It is appropriate to note that in January 2005 the Hebrew-language Theater of Ulpan “Halom” was invited to Israel to give in Knesset the performance dedicated to Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, pioneer of revival of Hebrew.


Boris Altshuler,

Moscow

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