Abraham Aaroni, Professor of the Hebrew Language at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion for more than three decades, and a pioneer in the teaching of Hebrew language and literature in the public schools of New York City, died at the age of 97 in New York on July 29th .
Born in a tiny farming village in the Ukraine in 1908, Aaroni did not start his formal education until he arrived in the U.S. in 1922. He received a teacher's certificate from Herziliah Teachers Seminary in 1925 in the field of Hebrew Literature and went on to receive a B.S. from City College (CCNY) and a M.A. from New York University. In 1936 Aaroni was appointed to New York City High Schools as a teacher of Hebrew, the first teacher ever appointed to this office. In 1954, he was appointed Chairman of Foreign Languages of Jamaica High School, again a first with Hebrew as the major language. Aaroni joined the staff of Hebrew Union College in 1947 and upon his retirement from the New York City School system in 1965, was appointed as a full-time faculty member, as Professor of Hebrew language and literature at the College-Institute.
A scholar of the Hebrew anguage, Aaroni published several books, including: Modern Hebrew Reader and Grammar (New York City, Shilo Publishing Co., 1945) and Fundamentals of Hebrew Grammar (New York City, Shilo Publishing, 1946). In addition to his writing, he held leadership roles amongst many professional and educational organizations, including the Modern Language Association, served as a member of the Regents Committee on Hebrew for the State of New York, as Chairman of the College Boards Examination, and President of the Association of Chairman of Foreign Languages for the City of New York.
Aaroni received the Doctor of Hebrew Letters, honoris causa, from the College-Institute at graduation ceremonies on June 8, 1975 in New York. In 1989, as a tribute to Aaroni for his years of service to HUC-JIR as a distinguished educator and esteemed member of the faculty, the College-Institute established the Abraham Aaroni Collection in Hebrew Literature at the Klau Library at HUC-JIR/New York.
Aaroni, the oldest of seven siblings, is survived by his sister, Ida, and many nieces and nephews. Celie, his wife of 69 years, passed away two weeks ago.