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Sunday, October 5, 2014

When Hebrew isn’t Hebrew.


How’s your Hebrew?


Well, mine isn’t.  Mine’s still at the kindergarten-baby level.

Every Shabbos, I challenge myself to plow through the free Hebrew newspaper (my husband sticks with the Jerusalem Post in English). 

Before you ask, I don’t know or care what the ideological slant of the paper is.  Being politically dumb, I can barely figure this out with newspapers in English, let alone in a foreign language. 

I also – in case you care - allow myself to skip the Sports section, just as I would in English.  To make up for it, I double up on the “Trivia,” torturing my husband with such translated doozies as, “who captains Manchester United?” “who discovered Australia?” “which actor was in… something something Cats?” (Samuel L. Jackson, in case you’re wondering) and “who… somethinged the… something?”

But it turns out Hebrew is not entirely foreign.  The article above is a pretty typical example (if only I had taken a better picture and you could actually see it).  In the first paragraph alone, the writer has used the following “Hebrew” words:

  • ריסטארט / restart
  • אנרגיה / energia (energy)
  • טריגר / trigger
  • דיאטה / dieta (diet)

These English / Latinate intrusions probably make it harder to learn Hebrew if your first language is something like Amharic, but for me, if I can make the word out, it’s a nice familiar “twinkle” in the middle of a tough paragraph.

That said, it’s all well and good when the English words you’re bringing into the language are nouns,

Haveil Havalim, Yom Kippur / Sukkot Edition


It’s been a quiet week… go figure; we’ve all been quite busy doing other stuff.  But bloggers that we are, we are still blogging, and here’s a roundup of what’s new and great this week in the Jewish blog world.

What is HH?

imageThis is a weekly roundup of what’s new and great in the Jewish / Israel blogging world.  If you haven’t checked out these great blogs yet, you really should. 

  • Last week’s was hosted by Ya’aqov at Esser Agoroth.
  • The next two weeks’ carnivals may or may not happen due to Sukkot.
  • For more details, a complete schedule of future issues or to host an upcoming issue, please join the HH facebook group.

Usually, I split up the links into arbitrary categories, but since there were so few entries this week, each blogger gets his/her own heading – for want of something more creative.  Enjoy!

NOTE:  If post(s) of yours are included here, be friendly and visit 2-3 other blogs listed here.  I’ve done my best to make them all sound tempting and fun.  Leave a comment to let them know you were there.


Look at the Flowers Lizzie:

Over at her new-to-me blog, Sharon shares a glimpse of Rosh HaShanah through the eyes of a social phobic, saying, “it’s all baby steps” in Rosh HaShanah: Pride.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Black crocheted kippah, on judgment.

Black crocheted kippah.

The guy across from me on the train, here in the reserved car, is davening.  He holds a big siddur, mouths the words under his breath, with passion.  Expertly, the way Israelis do.

He doesn’t have to daven, of course.  There are dozens of people on the train, all around him, who aren’t davening.  Turning on their laptops, listening to music.  Even with the kippah, they might just assume he davened earlier, at home or at shul. 

Still, no big deal.  He has a ring in his nose, a little silver loop.  A heavy silver-and-onyx ring on the middle finger of his left hand, and an ostentatiously chunky men’s watch on his left hand.  Another fine silvery ring pierces the cartilage of his left ear. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Two songs you will hear in Israel before Rosh Hashanah.


It’s beginning to sound a lot like…


If you’re the sort of person who feels bombarded by Xmas carols round about December 5th in North America, you have some sense of what goes on here before the Tishrei festivals (ie, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Simchat Torah).

Some songs are holier than others.  The “secular” ones deal with the passing of seasons and years, while the holy ones are drawn from the Torah, Tanach, Siddur, Machzor, etc.  Both are heard almost everywhere, regardless of whether it’s a religious or secular setting.

And if you are ever out in public when either of these is sung or performed,

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The dark side of... the sun (like how it can fade your laundry or kill you).


You may have heard that Israel is a poor country.
It's true.

But one thing we have plenty of here in Israel is sun.

Almost every day, almost all year 'round (except when my sister decided to come for 2 weeks last December).

This is cool for many reasons:
- Hanging laundry outside, where it can dry in hours
- Saving tons of energy with solar water heaters
- Planning outdoor events 10 months of the year without worrying about rain

As my son said when he was here, the boundaries between indoors and outdoors are just more pourous here.  Our "porch" window opens up and suddenly we are outside.  When air conditioning isn't running, people leave their doors open and come and go as they like.

But there is a dark side to all this sun.

The sun is powerful.

You don’t want to mess with the power of the sun.

The same sun that guarantees that all your whites will come off the line whiter than white also guarantees that your reds, oranges and pinks will fade to pink, in less than 24 hours in some cases.

Oh, and it will kill you, like it kills up to 480 Israelis every year.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Converting to Judaism! So when’s Gwyneth Paltrow coming to Israel?

Gwyneth Paltrow - celebrity convert and zionist?

According to the latest internet fooferah, Gwyneth Paltrow is totally getting into her Jewish roots.

The headlines border on sickening.  “Welcome home to the Jewish people, Gwyneth Paltrow!” chimes the Jerusalem Post. 

Why didn’t they give such a hearty welcome to the hundreds of non-celebrity baalei teshuvah and geirim over the last few years?  Or the thousands of new olim to Israel?  Oh, right.  We're not famous. 

(Okay, there are skeptics as well, like one headline that pleads, “Haven’t the Jewish people suffered enough?” and a Reform rabbi who insists that her conversion will confuse people who rely on that movement’s teachings on patrilineal descent.)

In interviews, Gwyneth has said that she wants to raise her children, Apple, 10, and Moses, 8, in a "Jewish environment." She’s also said that she considers herself a "Jewish princess" because of her rabbinical ancestry.

Think all this speculation is trivial? 

I did, when I first saw it. 

I really couldn’t care less about what actors do in their own private spiritual lives… unless it affects me. 

It turns out this does.


Because just a few years ago, Gwyneth and her husband Chris Martin (of the band Coldplay) were

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cultural disconnect: the Bissli light and an unveiling.


Did I mention we don’t have a home phone?

Part of the deal with keeping our Toronto phone number is that we don’t have a landline here.  Between our cellphones and the Toronto phone, I just figured it was enough.  (In a pinch, there’s also Skype, where I have credit to place outgoing phone calls.)

However… there are some good reasons to have a home phone, it turns out.  Like if there’s an Internet outage.

The other night, just as our daughter was getting ready to get on a plane in Toronto, just as I was talking to her on our very stable voice-over-IP phone line – her voice cut out.  There was no click, just silence.  At first, I thought she was miffed; she must have hung up.

But no, there was no phone.  So I checked the plug, made sure everything was working… and sure enough, there was no Internet, either.

We’d broken the Internet.  I unplugged and replugged everything electronic.  No luck.  Rebooted the router.  No luck.

So finally, darn, darn, darn – I called our Internet provider.