In Memoriam: Nancy Ezer

Published: February 28, 2022

The Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures is deeply saddened to learn of the passing our beloved Hebrew lecturer, Nancy Ezer. Nancy Ezer will be remembered as a devoted and passionate teacher, always encouraging and inspiring students once they stepped into her classroom, and adapting to new and digital platforms. Chair of the Department Kathlyn Cooney remarked, “We are eternally grateful for her presence in NELC. She was always so future-minded, always looking to computerize when others weren’t, always looking for an edge in her language training, always looking to recreate a home in exile. She out-maneuvered many of her colleagues in transitioning to online teaching! But most importantly, she provided a place for so many students seeking meaning in the modern Hebrew language.”

Nancy Ezer was born in Israel and attended Tel-Aviv University where she received her B.A. in Hebrew Literature and Language and as well as her teaching certificate. Soon after she arrived at UCLA and received her Ph.D. in Hebrew Literature and made UCLA her home.

Elizabeth Van Dyke, a NELC graduate student, shared “Dr. Ezer’s modern Hebrew class was foundational to my first years at UCLA. Every day she was a model of dedication and energy, both to us as students and to her course material. Her teaching style and rigor helped shape me as a scholar and a student, and I’m so very grateful for her pedagogy. She will be dearly missed and always remembered with gratitude.”

Year after year, course after course Nancy introduced a diverse range of students to the Hebrew language, inspiring them in their own teaching! NELC graduate student, Brian Donnelly-Lewis, reflected “I will miss Dr. Ezer dearly. She was a passionate and truly kind person. Her passion for Hebrew was only surpassed by her passion for seeing student’s grow and learn. She touched so many lives in her time at UCLA, mine included. She is the model that I strive to emulate every day in my teaching.” Martin Luther Chan, Dr. Ezer’s former student, shared, “Hebrew with Nancy Ezer was my very first UCLA class. I stepped into her classroom, full of anxiety and uncertainty, but I never imagined how my life would be completely transformed by her. I took Modern Hebrew on a whim, simply out of personal interest. Nancy’s class was the most challenging yet most rewarding course I had ever taken… Growing up as an Asian-American, I did not share the same connection to Hebrew that my classmates did. However, Nancy gave me that connection. In her classes, I was inspired to keep learning and exploring, realizing along the way that Hebrew was my true passion. She inspired me to follow directly in her footsteps to become a Hebrew teacher and ensure the continuity of this unique language. Nancy made it happen. She did it. She trusted me with the first opportunity to teach Modern Hebrew at UCLA in the summer of 2015. Then, I did not trust myself and was worried about how my students would react seeing an Asian person standing before them. Despite my apprehensions, she told me not to fear. Again, in my most vulnerable moment, Nancy encouraged and gave me a much-needed boost.  Today, teaching Modern Hebrew at the Washington University in St. Louis, I draw heavily from the effective ‘Nancy Ezer method,’ Baruch ha-Shem, our program is growing, and standing at the front of the classroom – where she first placed me – all my students are Nancy’s students. And in the future, our young students will take her torch and carry it forward.”

Nancy’s exceptional work was not only recognized by her students, but her colleagues as well. In 2007, she was awarded UCLA’s Distinguished Teach Award for “bringing respect and admiration to teaching at UCLA.” Professor Bill Schniedewind said, “Nancy was a tirelessly devoted teacher who was dedicated to and beloved by her students.” Emeritus Lecturer Ralph Jaeckel, remarked “I have known Nancy for many years as a fellow lecturer. She was not only a dedicated teacher of many students over the long years she devoted to our department, she was among those lectureres actively involved in applying her extensive experience to developing new methods and materials for the teaching of the language she loved. They will keep her memory and influence alive. For me and others her friendly presence in our corridors will be more important.” Professor Emeritus Lev Hakak, shared “Nancy viewed her teaching as a mission which she did with love and devotion. Her office ‘hour’ stretched way beyond an hour. Students lined up near her office, chatting and excited, and Nancy would not leave until the last of them had a chance to ask her questions… In 2008 I asked Nancy to help me in editing the second volume of Hador: The Hebrew Annual of America. She gracefully rose to the occasion and was the Associate Editor for that volume. She made meaningful contributions to Hador with her articles in the field of contemporary Modern Hebrew Literature. She published articles about the literary works of Orly Castel Bloom (2006), David Grossman (2008), Yehoshua Kenaz (2009); and an article about Y.H. Brener (2010). Nancy’s passing is an immense loss to her brilliant daughters and grandchildren, her friends, her colleagues and her students. She will live in their memories for many years.”

The NELC department extends condolences to Dr. Ezra’s daughters and family.  May her memory be for a blessing.

If you would like to make a contributions in honor of Dr. Ezer, please visit:  All funds will go toward supporting the learning of Hebrew at UCLA.