Holocaust survivor to teach new course in Hebrew

With the addition of Hebrew to the Modern Languages curriculum, Jay Sommer, the national teacher of the year in 1982, will join the faculty as an adjunct professor. Born in Czechoslovakia, he survived the Holocaust and a Nazi labor camp during World War II and was forced into service in the Russian army before he was able to arrive in the United States at the age of 21, uneducated and speaking no English.

He went on to earn a B.A. in Russian at Brooklyn College, a master of arts in Spanish language and literature at Hunter College and a master of arts in Russian language and literature at Fordham, followed by doctoral studies in comparative literature at NYU and courses at the University of Malaga in Spain, the Russian Language Institute in Moscow and Leningrad in Russia, the Hebrew Language Institute in Natania, Israel, and the French Language Institute in LaRochelle, France.

He has taught Spanish at Evander Childs High School in the Bronx, and Spanish, Russian, Hebrew and French at New Rochelle High School where he won the national teacher of the year honors, was teacher of the year three times in the New Rochelle public school system and was recently visiting scholar at the Montvale (N.J.) School District on staff development and curriculum. At the higher education level, he was an adjunct professor of Russian at Hunter College, adjunct professor of education at Iona College and visiting professor of education at Long Island University.

Selected to serve on the National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1981-83, he was part of the team that researched and wrote "A Nation at Risk," later serving as a consultant and spokesperson on the report for the U.S. Department of Education.

He has written on languages and the humanities in professional publications and is the author of Journey to the Golden Door - A Survivor's Tale, published in 1995.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on September 1, 1997

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