Rose Falanga, a long-time Lehrhaus student, shares what Lehrhaus has meant to herself and her husband.
How long have you been a Lehrhaus student?
“In the early 90s, I began to study with Rabbi Avi Levine at Congregation Beth El in Berkeley to prepare for my formal conversion to Judaism. He required me to take an introductory class on Judaism from Lehrhaus. Rabbi Levine also required me to study biblical Hebrew with him. When he left Beth El, I continued with Hebrew at Lehrhaus and, except for one several-year break, my husband and I have been studying there ever since.”
What Lehrhaus classes have you enjoyed the most and why?
“It would have to be advanced biblical Hebrew, a class that we take three times a year. If it were given four times a year, we would take it four times. But I also remember with great fondness a class on translation of the Bible, when we got to study with three scholars, most notably Robert Alter. I remembered that I disagreed with his translation of one verse. That had to be a high point of my studies.
“My husband went with Jehon (Grist) and a Lehrhaus class on an unforgettable archeological tour of Israel and Jordan.”
As a long-time student of Jehon Grist, what do you enjoy most about learning from him?
“I am not only a life-long student; I am also a teacher. I have taught librarianship and computers at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and also created and taught many professional development courses for librarians. Jehon has not only taught me a lot about biblical Hebrew, biblical poetry, the Tanakh, and biblical archaeology, but he has also taught me a lot about good teaching. First and foremost, as a teacher, Jehon is a learner. We learn along with him. We listen to him, and he listens to us. Within the safe, structured environment that he creates because of his deep knowledge of his subjects, we are encouraged to explore, internalize and share. It is the best possible way to get to know these rich, complex subjects.”
What has Lehrhaus meant to your life?
“Learning biblical Hebrew has made it possible for me and my husband to have a much fuller life within the local Jewish community, especially within the synagogues we attend. We both attend and present at Torah study, and I have been a cantorial soloist. One of my greatest joys is the chanting of Torah and Haftarah, and the leading of services in the synagogue and at a local nursing home.”
What classes would you like Lehrhaus to offer that we don’t offer?
“I only wish I had time to take more advantage of the classes Lehrhaus offers now.”
“What does Tevye sing?”
If I were rich, I’d have the time that I lack
To sit in the synagogue and pray.
And maybe have a seat by the Eastern wall.
And I’d discuss the holy books with the learned men, several hours every day.
That would be the sweetest thing of all.
Tell us a little more about yourself.
“I am the digital archivist and manager of the Learning Commons/Library at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. I have ben married for over 33 years to a librarian who is retired from the California State Library. Our 17-year-old grandson lives with us. My husband and I are members of Congregation Beth El in Berkeley and Kol Shofar in Marin. I enjoy walking, cooking, gardening, audiobooks, films, music of all kinds, and making and keeping friends.”
Register here for courses taught by Jehon Grist, including biblical Hebrew.