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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Coming true


Quick, fill in the blanks!

A bird ___.

A ____ surfs.

The travellers ___.

We eat ____.

The players play the ____.

In English, nouns and verbs have their own separate lives.  Sometimes they intersect (“a surfer surfs” “a traveller travels” “the players play” “a guard guards”), and sometimes, they don’t (“a bird flies” “we eat food” “the players play the game”).

In Hebrew, the two are closer together and far more flexible than in English.   Where in English, they’re always conjugated slightly differently, in Hebrew, nouns and verbs are often completely interchangeable.  For example:

  • השומר שומר / hashomer shomer = the guard guards
  • הגולש גולש על הגולש / hagolesh golesh al ha golesh = the surfer surfs (on the surfboard)
  • הנוסעים נוסעים / hanosim nosim = the travellers travel
  • הוא אוכל אוכל / hoo o-CHEL O-chel (same spelling, slightly different emphasis) = he eats food
  • המשחקים משחקים במשחקים / hamesachakim mesachakim ba-mischakim (same spelling, slightly different pronunciation) = the players play the games

But today I realized there’s one example where English is more flexible.  There is no verb in Hebrew (that I know of, which isn’t saying much!) for “to rain.”

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Buying a computer in Israel? Don’t shop without this guide! (with Hebrew/English glossary)


Do you use a computer?  (If not, how are you reading this???) 

If you do, then sooner or later, you’re going to need a new one. 

I hope I don’t sound unpatriotic when I say that it is better by far to buy a computer in North America.   You’ll get name-brand systems for a lower price with more options and software included in the basic price.  Plus, you’ll be able to read all about those options in a language you understand – a huge plus.

But never fear!  With the information in this guide, you will have at least some of the tools you need to buy a new one here.

My husband’s laptop finally quit the other day.  It’s been showing signs of dying, which is actually great, because he’d gotten nervous and backed everything up.

(It was for exactly this reason, we’re told, that Yitzchak davened for illness before his death.  A midrash says that before this, people – like many computers today – simply dropped dead when their allotted time was up.)

So we had some advance notice of the tragic event.  And we decided to replace it with a desktop which will give him room to spread out while he works and more of the semblance of an office at his little corner desk (me, I’m hooked on writing on my laptop – on trains, buses and anywhere I find myself!).

Decision made:  now, all we had to do was pick one.

Now, I am not a computer newbie.  I used to run a computer centre for seniors.  I sourced and ordered all the computers, a server, outfitted and basically ran the network for an entire office.  I have done server maintenance, network and firewall setup, hardware repairs and more.  I wouldn’t set myself up as a computer professional, but I basically know what I’m doing. 

Did I mention that I have taught workshops on how to buy a computer?  I’ve done this buying-a-computer thing before – hundreds of times.


(I bought every single piece of hardware in this picture… and yes, that’s me at the front telling everyone how to use it all.)

So I figured it would be easy.  Maybe even fun.

As always, however, things are different in Israel.  It has not been easy, or fun, so far.  And I thought it would be helpful to share some of what I’ve learned along the way. 

I hope it will help anyone else who’s diving into this kinda-major purchase, along with a few of the pitfalls ion each category.  Since we were buying a desktop computer, that’s what I’ve written about here.  If you’re buying a laptop, some of these points may not always apply.

Basic terminology.

In each section below, I’ll include relevant Hebrew terms.

Basic words that are useful to know: 

  • מַחְשֵׁב / machshev = computer
  • מחשב נייח / machshev nayach = desktop computer
  • מחשב נייד  / machshev nayad = portable computer (people also say לפטופ / laptop)
  • חָמְרָה / chamra = hardware
  • תָּכְנָה / tachna = software
  • כולל / kolel = includes, as in “does this computer include a mouse?”
  • לא כלול / lo kalul = not included
  • ללא / l’lo = not included
  • גִּ'יגָה/ jigga = Giga; in Hebrew, the “G” is bafflingly soft
  • מַאֲרָז/ ma’araz = case, if you’re buying a desktop.  Matters not at all.
  • משלוח / mishloach or משלוחים / mishlochim = delivery
  • שִׁדְרוּג  / shidrug = upgrade.  Many will be on offer.
  • אַחְרָיוּת / achrayut = warranty.  Very, very important!


Computer systems never include a monitor. 

This is true outside of Israel as well.  But there, we were always well-connected enough to score a free monitor of some kind.  For a few years, it seemed we were drowning in them… but here, we had to buy one. 

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.