Saturday, April 30, 2011


Hi everyone,
Well here we all are again after the Pesach break. Pesach evening turned out to be a very warm evening and so everyone had their windows open during the Seder meal. It felt as if you could hear the whole of the Jewish people here in Israel remembering, as Ha Shem commanded us to do. Through the open windows drifted the sounds of the families around us telling about the events and miracles that brought us out of Egypt and in to this Promised Land for the first time. There was the smell of the festive food and the melodies of traditional songs that bring familiar memories and emotions flooding back, although through it all it was hard for us to forget, the miracle and the suffering that brought us back out of the nations to this Promised Land, a very moving moment. Yom Ha Shoah starts on Sunday evening this week and is a time when we remember the 6 million people, amongst them 1.5 million children that were exterminated under the rule of Nazi Germany. Special ceremonies will be held, as they are every year, at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, “Yad Vashem”, here in Jerusalem. Last year over 56,000 holocaust survivors died, leaving around 206,000 here in Israel. Time is running out for these brave individuals, and it is only right that the legacy is passed on to the next generation, that we promise those that were there that we will remember.
Here at the Ulpan, things are busy as usual, although after the break both our students and ourselves are having a hard time getting back in to the swing of things. Such is life!! My article on ‘agreement’ was published on the 'English Hebrew by Subject' website, receiving positive feedback from the people who contacted us after reading it. If you would like to see what I wrote, look under ‘blog’ on the 'English Hebrew by Subject' website ( ).
Our new website is well underway and looking amazing as it really starts to take shape. Although unfortunately, it’s taking rather more time than anticipated, we are really looking forward to launching it and are sure that all our readers and all of students present and future will appreciate the effort that has gone in to it. After all, they do say that good things are worth waiting for!
Our advertising campaign in the Jerusalem post is continuing and is based on introducing our core team to the JP readers. It has been great fun putting it together and we have even seen that one of our competitors here has begun to use phrases etc., surprisingly close to our own….. tut tut! Ze be emet lo yaffeh!
Unfortunately, during the Pesach period, there was another tragedy in the Territories when a 24yr old father of 4 was shot dead in an ambush after praying at Joseph’s tomb in Shechem. We would like to offer our sincere condolences to his wife, children and all the family and friends.
To end on a happy note however, Tamara, our former secretary has coerced me in to congratulating the British Royal couple, Prince William and Kate Middleton on their wedding today. We wish them much health and happiness in their future life together. (These Brits, it’s in their genes!)
Take care all and have a wonderful week.
Gil Pentzak
Ulpan Aviv- director

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Shalom Lekulam, Ma shlomchem?

I hope this post finds you all, well and happy. I am writing these lines in between cleaning and the last arrangements for Pessach. It really is a lot of work before the holiday, but definitely worthwhile and it all adds to the excitement. People are rushing home after a days work to finish all the household preparations on time. The children have started their spring vacation from their schools or kindergartens, including my 3…., and during the past week and the sense and expectation of the approaching holiday has been mounting and is visible everywhere. Spring has finally come to stay in Israel and the sight and smell of blossoming flowers are everywhere.
At the ulpan, we are also entering a time of growth and renewal. In anticipation of the summer we will be adding new members to our staff team. New teachers will be joining us and also a new secretary. We would like to say goodbye to Tamara and say a big TODA RABA for all the wonderful work and amazing atmosphere she brought to us. Unfortunately, Tamara will be going away in a month or so (although both she and we are still hoping for her to stay), and in the mean time she wants to dedicate her time in studying, going back to behind the desk in one classrooms here at Ulpan Aviv, rather than at the front desk! All of us, and in particular, me, wish her all the best and much success!
I wish you all PESSACH KASHER VESAMEACH and I hope that this year will be the time when we will be redeemed, having the MASSHIACH come, bringing peace and salvation to us and to the world!
With much love and every greeting,
Gil Pentzak
Ulpan Aviv- Director

Sunday, April 10, 2011

This week’s Parash

This week’s Parasha reading (weekly Torah portion) was taken from Leviticus (Vayikra), chapters 14 – 16 and speaks mostly about the laws concerning a person having Leprosy. It’s amazing how Torah portions are so often linked with what is actually going on at the time, and this portion is certainly no exception. Leprosy is a just one of the symbols used to illustrate sin, and although leprosy is very obviously visible, sin often is not. This passage teaches us that we should examine ourselves for it and if we do find it, then it is something that can’t be dealt with alone but need to seek help of one in trusted position to help. After dealing with the matter, we then need to wait for a certain amount of time in order to be sure that the problem has been dealt with. This so wonderfully ties in with the time leading to Pesach, when we clean out our houses from top to bottom in order to rid them of trace of Chametz (another symbol of sin). In this incredibly special time we also search ourselves and our lives for any sign of sin that needs to be dealt with that will hinder us being ready for the moment when the Eternal one made death pass over us.

Here at Ulpan Aviv, we are not only furiously working on the website and conducting interviews to find just the right teacher to add to our great team, but we also busily preparing both ourselves and our students for Pesach with the materials that we have specially prepared for them for this time. In Israel in the last few days we have had many concrete opportunities to reflect on Chag Pesach. Due to the escalation of violence and the arrival of countless mortars and missiles in to Israel from Gaza, we are daily faced with the wonder of HaShem making death pass over us! With well over 100 rockets etc., arriving in Israel from Gaza in the last 48 hours, it has been miraculous that up until me writing this, not one person has lost there life. A real reminder of what Pesach stands for to us as a nation.
Well must go. No time to waste. Just off to re-stock on Cif, bleach etc….
Gil Pentzak
Ulpan Aviv director

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Shalom le kulam!

Thankfully this week has so far been a relatively quiet week here in Jerusalem, although, things seem to be ‘hotting up’, in the surrounding countries. We’ll just have to wait and see the effect that this will have on our daily lives here in Israel.
Here at the Ulpan, things are moving forward with our new website. We had a photo shoot and are furiously writing and rewriting articles that may be of interest to both our existing and future students. I was also approached to write an article for the ‘ English/Hebrew by Subject Blog’. After much thought, I chose to write on a subject that most people struggle with, the’ dreaded’ subject of agreement (gender, number), between nouns, adjectives etc. The article should be published shortly on the following site. I hope it helps………..
Another highlight of the week was the return of one of our Canadian students. She is a musician and once, in a dream, she was playing her violin over the city of Jerusalem. For one of her lessons, I took her to the Promenade Haas, which has an amazing view of the city. There she was able to realize this dream. A very moving experience.
Well that’s all for now…..
Take care,
Gil Pentzak
Ulpan Aviv- Director