After more than a quarter century teaching Hebrew to Temple Israel’s children, Religious School teacher Doris Parker has decided to retire.
Doris, who moved to Omaha in 1949 with her husband, Omaha native Milton Parker, taught at Temple Israel for 27 years. And before that, she taught at Beth Israel for 30 years.
Originally from Chicago, Doris grew up on the city’s west side before moving to the Albany Park neighborhood. She attended an orthodox synagogue growing up, and went to a girls-only yeshiva for two years after she graduated from Hebrew School.
“I had to know Hebrew from an early age,” Doris said. “That’s how the services were done back then, everything was in Hebrew.”
Doris received her teaching degree from Chicago’s Roosevelt University and moved to Omaha with Milton almost immediately after. She taught full time for two years in the Omaha Public School system and was a substitute teacher for District 66.
But being a part of the Jewish community is what Doris truly enjoyed. She started out as a morning preschool teacher for Beth Israel and was soon also returning to the synagogue in the afternoons to teach Hebrew.
When Doris and her family made the transition to Temple Israel, it was only natural she bring her education skills with her, much to the delight of the clergy and staff.
“When you look at the reasons for the upgrading of the Hebrew language at Temple Israel and in our Religious School, you will find Doris Parker’s name at the top of that list,” said Rabbi Aryeh Azriel.
“She put in over 27 years of dedication and commitment to the Ivrit education of hundreds of youth and adults in our community,” Rabbi Azriel continued. “When you look around town, you will be able to identify scores of Jews, young and old, who learned their first Alef-Bet from Doris.”
Doris is quite proud of the fact that she taught Hebrew to several generations of Omaha’s Jewish community.
“Some of my students are now grandparents,” Doris said. “And I taught their grandchildren.”
It has always been a great joy for Doris to attend services and watch her students grow up and continue their Hebrew studies.
“I love to see it,” Doris said. “I love to see the kids grow up. I love to go to services to see the kids have their bar mitzvahs … I like to see them continuing what I started.”
Rabbi Azriel praised her commitment to her students’ education.
“Her tenacity in making sure that her students acquired a Hebrew foundation that will last is admirable,” he said.
But as time passed, Doris decided it was time to retire when technology began to take over the education process she loved so dear.
“Everyone wants to communicate with their computers,” she said. “No one wants to talk in person or on the phone anymore. I’m no good with computers. If I’m on my computer twice a week, that’s good for me.”
As Doris looks forward to her retirement, education continues to remain a priority for her. She attends Temple Israel’s Thursday morning Adult Study with the Clergy and the Torah Study sessions before Saturday morning services. And there’s enough to do in Omaha that she’s not worried about her retirement becoming boring.
“I belong to the opera, the symphony, the playhouse. I keep busy,” Doris said. “I hope I’ll be able to keep busy.”