Tag Archive | Hebrew language

Does He Know Hebrew?

hebrew, english, translator, hebrew letters, english letters, hebrew speaking kids, english speaking kdis, bilingual

This year, Shlomo is going to preschool.  Why?  Well, because towards the end of this past school year, I started seeing signs that he was ready.  I can’t exactly explain it, but the signs were there, and I knew that I had to find him something for next year.  The question was only what, and how many days/hours per week.  And obviously, if he needs to be in preschool, I’m not going to stay home by myself, right?

In the end, we found a great preschool (gan), except that it’s from 7:30 until 4:00 (except on Friday, when they end at 12:00).  Not my dream; I would have preferred shorter days.  On the other hand, until I had my schedule in hand, knowing where he’s be until 4 was a good thing.  (As it turns out, they take a nap from 1:15 until 3:00, then they wake up, have a snack, and it’s pick-up time.  So I guess there’s no real difference between a gan that ends at one and his gan.)

The gan is great.  The ganenet (preschool teacher) is wonderful.  He loves going, he loves to be there, and he’s not usually in a rush to come home – first he has to finish what he’s playing with.  The ganenet loves him.  He has a slight issue parting from us in the morning, but apparently, the minute we walk out the door, he’s happy again.  All is good, thank G-d.

Yesterday, the ganenet told Yitzchak that he doesn’t understand the word, “ba,” (came).  When Yitzchak told me this, I scoffed at him – Shlomo has told me a few times, “bo’oo,” (come, in plural) and patted the floor.  I wasn’t sure if Shlomo understood that “bo” and “come” were synonyms, but he definitely knew the word.  Of course, Yitzchak was surprised.

Also yesterday, Shlomo told me, “shan, shan.”  It took me a few minutes to figure out what he wanted, and then I understood.  “Lishon,” to sleep.  Or at least, I thought I understood.  I decided to find out if I was right.

“Atah rotzeh lishon (do you want to sleep)?” I asked.

“Yeah?” he answered.

“You want to go to sleep?”


“Az im atah rotzeh lishon telech l’mitah shelcha v’neileich lishon (so if you want to go to sleep, go to your bed and we’ll go to sleep),” I said.

He gets up and starts walking towards his bed; when he gets there, he points in – pick me up and put me in my bed.

Oops, Shlomo, you’re caught red-handed.  You don’t know Hebrew?  Umm, I think you were ignoring the ganenet, who is nice and wants to make sure that if you’re having a hard time, we get you some help right away.  I gave Shlomo a talk about listening to the ganenet.  Then Yitzchak called, I told him the story, and he told me to tell Shlomo that he’d be in trouble if that happened again.  I relayed the message and Shlomo’s face suddenly got really serious.

Today, Yitzchak took Shlomo to gan.  He told the ganenet that Shlomo was ignoring her, and gave Shlomo another speech.  When Yitzchak came to pick Shlomo up in the afternoon, the ganenet told him that she’d spoken to him in Hebrew, all day, with her hands behind her back (so she wouldn’t give him any clues), and that he did everything she told him.  She was pretty surprised that he knew Hebrew this well, and even more surprised to hear that Shlomo has been using the word, “bo,” at home.  Then Yitzchak told Shlomo in Hebrew to come to him, and then to bring his backpack.  Shlomo looked at him, thought for a second, and listened.

People used to tell us that Shlomo doesn’t know Hebrew (and won’t) because we speak English at home.  Honestly, I wonder which language Shlomo understands better – English or Hebrew (and I’ve wondered that for a while).

Clear Blue Skies and Sunshine

Today*, when I went outside, the sun was shining, and the weather was perfect.  It was slightly chilly; not too hot, not too cold.  For me, slightly chilly is perfect, because I tend to walk fast, and then I get sweaty.  For a few minutes, it felt as if I had stepped into a story, one of those, ‘This was a land of hope and green after the Holocaust, where the sun shone and the sky was clear,’ post-Holocaust, stories.

Why?  I thought to myself.  It’s true, it’s a beautiful day.  It’s true, this is my favorite kind of day, when it’s sunny, but still chilly, and it’s beautiful and green.  But why does it feel like a story? 

Besides, if it is like a story, how would I know that and recognize it?

*          *         *         *         *         *  

When I was twelve years old, I came to Israel for my cousin’s wedding, which doubled as a bat mitzva trip for me.  My birthday, and my cousin’s wedding, were in March/April, so I got to miss school for about two weeks.

In those days, I didn’t know about the maddening things the government did, I didn’t think too much about terror attacks, and I didn’t worry about the water shortage or if we were getting enough rainfall.  Sure, I knew that Israelis had to be careful to save water.  They would rinse the dishes, soap them, and then rinse the soap off, being careful to turn off the water between each step.  They would also take shorter showers, and turn off the water when they were soaping.  But I didn’t fully understand, and I didn’t worry. 

*          *         *         *         *         *  

Maybe I did fully understand, but I didn’t care.

*          *         *         *         *         *  

I came on this trip to Israel with my mother and 1.5 year old sister.  1.5.  Wow.  Shlomo’s only a little older than that now.  Kind of makes me feel like deja-vu, if you know what I mean, except it’s my child that I’m pushing in the stroller, not my mother’s. 

We went to restaurants, she paid with travelers’ cheques.  To this day, I can hear her saying “travelers’ cheques” in English, with the rest of the sentence in Hebrew, while she asked each establishment if they accepted them.  I was so embarrassed that she was speaking Hebrew except for one phrase.  It sounded so dumb.

It’s true, I’d left my pesky (sorry, Esther, but that is how I felt then, and how you felt, too) little sister at home, but I didn’t really feel that I had my mother to myself, unless she happened to be telling me how to act or dress or talk.  I didn’t mind that my baby sister came along – her, I liked.  I did mind that my mother didn’t really seem interested in spending time with me, unless it was walking around shopping, or doing touristy things that she wanted to do.  Except, that is, for my cousin’s wedding.  She wasn’t really paying attention to me then, either, but the wedding itself was nice enough to make up for that.

I walked around, I did some dumb things, I did some embarrassing things, but I loved the country.  When I went back to school, I had picked up, in the two weeks that I spent in Israel, a little bit of an accent.  I worked hard to keep it when I noticed that it was going away; I was proud of that little bit of an Israeli accent.

*          *         *         *         *         *  

I can’t say that I was successful in keeping my bit of an accent, but it certainly might have helped me to develop a better accent later on, when I moved here.

When we arrived back home at the end of the trip, I announced to my parents, “When I grow up, I’m going to make aliya (move to Israel).”  They replied (truthfully, my mother replied): “We’ll see what happens when the time comes.”

The time came, and I made aliya.

But it is walking, carefree, in a beautiful day like this one, with a chill in the air, green grass, gray trees, and the sun shining, that made me feel that today was a story-like day.

sky, clouds, jerusalem sky, jerusalem clouds, clear skies, clear sky, blue sky, beautiful sky, jerusalem, isreal

This picture is one I took a few months ago, while waiting at a bus stop. Today there were no clouds, but the sky is about the same color, and it’s a beautiful picture.


* I’ve never used italics for thoughts/daydreams before, so please forgive any mistakes (and correct them).

Dates Confuse Me

calendar, april, calendar dates, aprilThe calendar type, that is.  I haven’t had a date of the other type with anyone except my husband in, oh, four years (we’ve been married almost three).

I was looking for an email last night, just as a reference point for something that I had seen (on someone else’s kid) that concerned me.  So, I looked for April 8, 2011.  I found 8/4/2011.  But I couldn’t find what I was looking for.  There was only one email from that date, and it wasn’t related.  There were other emails, dated 8/2/2011, 8/7/2011, 8/9/2011, and so on, but none was what I was looking for.

Then I understood: 8/4/2011 means August 4, 2011.  Obviously, I wasn’t finding anything!  So I started looking for 4/8/2011.  It was kind of tough, because I kept misreading the dates, but eventually, I found what I was looking for (and yes, it was as I thought it was).  Argg.

The funny thing is, this happens all the time.  Since I came to Israel, I have switched to using a 24-hour clock, and putting the day before the month.  In Hebrew, 8.4.2011 is “shmini l’rivi’i alpayim vshteim-esreh”, or, “the eighth day of the fourth month 2011”.  So when I see 8/4/2011, I don’t read, “August 4, 2011,” I read, “The eighth day of the fourth month (April), 2011.”  It makes more sense to say it this way, honestly.  Don’t we all say, “Your appointment is on the eighth of April?”  So, why not write it that way?  Apparently, because America likes to be contrary, and G-d forbid, we should use what the British (and Eurpeans in general) use.

Sigh.  Will I ever get un-mixed?  Or, alternately, is there any way for me to change the settings on my emails (and everything else) to say what I expect it to say?

The Tzipi Livni Party

tzipi livni, tzippy livni, the tzipi livni party, the tzippy livni party, hatenuah, kadima, politics, israel, israeli politics, israeli elections

Background: As some of you may know, Tzipi Livni made her own party after the primaries, when she was not re-chosen as the party head of Kadima.  Her party is called [in English], as the title might imply, “The Tzipi Livni Party.”

Because elections are a week away, we are going kind of nuts.  We are obsessing about who we’d like to see in the next coalition, who we’d like to see not in the coalition, and who the best parties are for security, economy, and everything else that we believe in. For instance: Sales tax was raised 1% this past year, income tax was raised, and property tax was raised.  Prices of government-controlled food items were raised (certain food items are price-controlled by the government).  The housing shortage is continuing.  The government decided to draft all the chareidim, and then backed down, to get chareidi votes (lame, dumb, selfish, and weak).  These are all things that we’d like to see fixed.  And I’m not even going to touch the security/”settlement” issues.

Story: So, yesterday, Yitzchak says, “I think I should make a new party and call it ‘The Yitzchak Duckies Party’.  What do you think?  You think people will vote for me?”

What can I say?  I cracked up.  And am still laughing, because the very idea [of Yitzchak making the ‘Yitzchak Duckies Party’] is funny.  And it is funny that Tzipi Livni named her party after herself.  Come one, how lame is that?

(In Hebrew, the party is called, “Hatenua b’raishut Tzipi Livni,”, or, literally, “The movement headed by Tzipi Livni.”  In other words: “Let’s make Tzipi Livni PM”/ “I, Tzipi Livni, deserve to be PM.  I was almost PM last time, but nobody liked me enough to work with me, so let’s pout.”  I think it is hilarious.  Also: Kadima, the party that she headed last time, means “Forward!” as in, “Let’s move forward.”  Now it’s just a “movement,” not “forward.”  Too bad, huh?)

And in general, I think the word “party” is funny.  What do the members do, drink beer all day?  Is it really a party?  Because if so, I’d like to join.  Not.  I happen to dislike parties, immensely.