Friday, July 29, 2011

Shalom! Ma Nishma?

ope that you have had a good week and that everything is going smoothly.
Here in Israel and in Ulpan more specifically, there are loads of things to write about, to be honest, but I’ll start with the bigger things that are currently taking place in the Holy Land.
The protests against the government are growing wider and wider. More and more people have been out on the streets to protest about the high housing prices, petrol rates, children welfare, and almost anything else that you could think of. Although I can identify with the main ideas of some of the protests, I must say that in the past week, things seem really to be getting slightly out of hand. I am hoping that the Israeli government will be able to find a rapid and suitable solution so that we will all be able to go back to normal, (or at least as normal as one can get in this country… )
In Ulpan it has been another very busy week. Sivan, our new teacher who recently joined us in Tel Aviv, started teaching her first course this week having finished her training with me. Hearing her first student coming out from one of the lessons saying: "I really like her", definitely brought a smile to my lips. There is nothing like hearing students saying good things about our teachers in Ulpan.
On Thursday (YOM CHAMISHI), three of our students graduated. Two of the three live here in Israel and we hope to see them again soon and one of them went back to Spain. Congratulations to all of you and all the best. It has been a real pleasure to have as our students.
With so much going on, I don’t remember if I had told you about a recent article of mine that was posted on the web-site. Here is the link in case I haven’t.
I hope you have a great weekend!
Shabbat Shalom,
Gil Pentzak, Ulpan Aviv- director

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Shalom! Ma Shlomchem?

I trust that my blog post finds you all BESEDER and well. BH I know this is how it finds me…
The past few months in Israel have been very interesting with regards to what is happening with our neighbors here in the Middle East. The wind of protest and liberation has been blowing around us all this time and it seems to have now arrived here.
It all started 2 months ago with a social protest against the rising petrol prices, continuing with protests against the rising cost of dairy products (historical), and is now reaching a climax with nurses and doctors protesting about their remuneration and more importantly their working conditions and the conditions for the patients in hospital and even protesting due to the price of housing in the Holyland.
People are currently out on the streets (literally), living in tents to show the government how bad things have become for them. It is all very interesting following what is happening in our world today, and I am sure that it will go down in the pages of our history books as being a period of change in the world as we know it.
Other than that, it has been another very busy week in Ulpan. Sivan has joined us on the Ulpan Aviv team and is currently training for her new role with me as a teacher. We are delighted to welcome her into our team.
Training a new teacher is a big commitment for me, including many hours with the teacher, explaining Ulpan Aviv’s ethos and values as well as our approach, both to our students and to learning. It is a time in which I love to expose new teachers to, what I call the wonders of the Hebrew language.
To conclude, I would like to share with you a link to a website run by a former student of mine, dealing with Jewish culture. Knowing Jean, I am sure that you will find some interesting issues there to read about, and I know you will find some good entertainment.
I hope you had a great weekend, full of joy and sun!
Shavua tov,
Gil Pentzak, Ulpan Aviv- director

Friday, July 15, 2011


I hope all is well with you all and that you are having a great summer so far.
We have had a mad but great week here at Ulpan. More and more people have called to enquire about, and to reserve their Hebrew course. Among them both Olim Chadashim (new immigrants), and people visiting Israel both to see their families or just as a tourist. Some of our regular students are away for the summer and therefore, they will be continuing their studies with us with our on-line programs and so we’ve happily got a lot on our hands at the moment . It’s great to be able to keep in touch from so far away! Saray (the other teacher in TA) and me went to south Tel Aviv this week to look for some furniture that we needed here at the Ulpan. We had already heard about an area in south Tel Aviv where many stores are located, and so we headed on down there. After a 20 minute journey we found ourselves wandering from one store to another looking at furniture, (and a few items that I would not dare call furniture…). It was tiring and very hot but in the end we found what we had gone for; two nice and comfortable arm chairs, one green and one purple (not as bad as it sounds) to match the ulpan colors. (Have you checked out the new web site yet?)
This week I also finally found the time to organize the book display, which turned out to be real therapy for me; working with tools, measuring and banging holes in the wall. Just what the doctor ordered!
On Thursday I came to the end of an on-line course with a very dear student from England. We have known each other for the past almost 2 years and this was our second course on-line. Graduation days are always a bit bitter-sweet….
Before I finish, I must recommend a documentary that I saw this week. It was directed by a very famous Israeli journalist named Emanuel Rozen. Emanuel had heard that in the newly established state of Southern Sudan, the population is very pro-Israel and keen on having Israel as an ally. Emanuel Rozen went there to research what he had heard. It was so interesting to see and can really recommend that you watch it. (half Hebrew and half English). Here is the link:
I wish you all Shabbat Shalom!
Gil Pentzak, Ulpan Aviv- director

Friday, July 8, 2011

Shalom Lekulam! Ma Nishma?

Well summer is now well under way with the heat wave that normally arrives at the beginning of June, arriving just last week. The beaches here in Tel Aviv are sunnier than ever. As I have already mentioned in previous blogs, the Tel Aviv Ulpan is very close to the beach and so while students in Jerusalem used to come for lessons after praying at the Kotel, here in Tel Aviv they come after a swim in the sea. I have also previously mentioned that I am in the process of collecting data about the differences in teaching Hebrew in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. When I have any information, you will be the first to know… (great that English does not have number distinction in verbs and I can write "you" and mean each of you).
Sunday of this week saw the launch of Ulpan Aviv’s first Newsletter. Our intention is to publish a newsletter at the beginning of every Hebrew month, which is aimed at keeping everyone informed of what is going on at the Ulpan and to help us keep in contact with our students, (past, present and future). This month's newsletter spoke about the month of Tamuz as well as giving details regarding recent events here at Ulpan Aviv. We also launched a new campaign called: "Ask the Experts". People can write to us during the month to ask any question that they may have about the Hebrew language. Every month one question will be selected and published with the answer (we won’t publish a name if the enquirer prefers that we don’t). The sender of the published question will receive a gift of 4 Aviv On-Line lessons (via Skype). You can send any questions that you may have directly to me at:
Today here in Israel we are expecting a demonstration of approximately 50-60 people, mainly from Europe, demonstrating against Israel. On arrival at the airport they are intending to say that they are coming to visit Palestine. It is needless to say what I think of this but I would like to insist that the state of Israel has every right to be acknowledged. She is very much alive and well and if we could only open a dialogue from this starting point, then I think we may have a better chance of reaching some conclusion.
I wish you all Shabbat Shalom, and if you are planning a visit in the holy land, don’t forget to stop by…
Gil Pentzak, Ulpan Aviv- director

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Shalom Lekulam! Ma Shlomchem?

I hope the past week was a good one for all. For me at Ulpan, it has been a packed and exciting week. With having our first student coming in to our new branch in Tel Aviv, where I am located permanently at the moment and upgrading our PR and advertising campaign, there was not much time left for anything else. This week our first newsletter was finally written. Our newsletter is going to be published once a month, on Rosh Chodesh (the first day of every Hebrew month). Since Rosh Chodesh is on Shabbat (02-07), it was very important for me that everything would stick to schedule so we could publish on time. Finishing up our mailing list and making a contact with a distribution company, writing the content and working on the graphics happily occupied my time for the past few days. You can all join our newsletter by subscribing on our new web site. On the home page you will find the details of how to subscribe at:
Please feel free to write me any comments you may have. Of course, complements would also be welcome… (☺.
Another thing worked on this week was to continue with our new prospectus. Everyone who expresses an interest or who comes for an evaluation will be given a guide to all our different Hebrew courses with all the relevant information and accompanied with lovely graphics made by Avishag Danino, our in-house graphic designer.
On a personal level, on Wednesday we celebrated our oldest son's 5th birthday. Friends from his Gan (kindergarten) came and Lea, my wife was in charge of all the activities whereas I was in charge of the "strategic" side (someone needs to, I am not complaining).
I wish you all שבת שלום, and invite you for a visit!
Gil Pentzak, Ulpan Aviv- director