Birthing in Hebrew.

I always thought when it came to my childbirth experience here in Israel, I’d end up automatically speaking, pleading and moaning in my native tongue. Despite Israeli hospital staff. I figured they probably get that all the time, and who doesn’t speak English in the medical field?

Well… it didn’t happen that way. I birthed my little Israeli son in Hebrew. Somehow, I had that frame of mind turned on. Or maybe there was this other-person coming out of me. A person who could do anything, in any language.

So that's what they do with your tonsils…

In case all that talk of crabits made you hungry, how about some tonsil skewers? C’mon, they’re a great source of unnecessariness:

Courtesy of Tzidkiyahu, a Talpiot Israeli grill joint I still love even if they serve Tonsils for 72 shekels. Unfortunately, I can’t remember what the Hebrew side of the menu said.

Beware the crabits in your cards…

Is it passe to make fun of English spelling mistakes on Israeli marketing products? Eh, I still find it amusing and I’m sure one day my kids will make fun of me for the Hebrew mistakes I make in the little notes in their lunchboxes.

Anyway, I am offering a public service announcement about what is either an unprofessional Israeli credit card company or a dangerously itchy STD you can get from your wallet:

This is pretty impressive considering it seems to be part of their official company title: Israel crabit cards, ltd.

Just stay away from the crabits and you’ll be ok.

Hebrew-speaking dogs.

I’m sitting on my couch and I hear a scratch at the door. My first thought is, did a jackal from the forest across the street come all the way upstairs to haunt me?

My second thought is, it does, however, sound like a dog.

After peeping through the door, I realized it was a dog. A big, fluffy, yellow, gentle, wet and smelly dog. And it was indeed ‘knocking’ at my door.

This is the second time a dog has confused our apartment with their owner’s. Tzur Hadassah is filled with domestic dogs who are sent to roam free and come home whenever they please.

We tried to shoo it away but it insisted on coming inside. He probably lost track of the scent of his trail since it’s really the first or second big rain we’ve had here.

But I felt sorry for him, probably wanting to be home curling up in his pillow. I realized we could send him home with a few key words.

Shev. The dog sat and I checked his collar for a house number. Nope.

Bo. We made him come towards the steps to go downstairs.

L’mata. I tried to encourage him to go downstairs but he needed more, he needed company, so we bo‘d him all the way down, until he started wandering over to the apartment building next door, which looks exactly like ours.

Hebrew-speaking dogs. There’s no place like home.

Progress.

Here’s how you know you’ve developed as a student over years of Israeli grad school:

First semester of Israeli grad school, three long years ago, you were told to write an end-of-term paper using the proper guidelines of the university’s thesis policy. You scrambled to find it after being told it was ‘somewhere on the website.’

After hours of searching through the terribly laid-out university website, you find the downloadable pamphlet, print out all 42 pages, staple it, and then begin to panic. Obviously it’s a Hebrew document. But it’s so official. So wordy. So haughty.

You sit and struggle and manage to pick up whatever little pieces you deem most important and leave the rest behind; you’ll worry about it later when you really need it for the end-of-degree project paper.

And now, three years later, you’ve come dangerously close to the deadline of the last project you’ll have to do in this degree. You’ve got 40-60 pages to write, and somehow have to squeeze that in between work and the holidays before the back-to-school date. You’re not too bothered by it though and the time has come to start.

You dig out that old paper-writing manual and brush it off. You flip through the three-year-old pages and scan for details. Suddenly, there’s so much more to learn here. When to use quotes, when to skip lines. When to spell out terminology in English instead of transliterating in Hebrew (though, that’s not your problem).

This pamphlet of guidelines is quite pleasant at this point, like an old friend who you’ve been weary of but have now learned they like to bake cookies. The 42 pages that seemed scary before seem like just enough. You settle into your chair and begin.

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On second thought, that’s not developing as a student over years of Israeli grad school; it’s actually more like being the student you’ve always been, but developing as the speaker of a second language, making it your own through pamphlets, thick and thin.

Learn to read in Hebrew for free.

UPDATE (2011): Found another excellent resource for learning Hebrew online for free…

I just came across the website of the National Jewish Outreach Program, which I’ve never heard of before. It seems like a great resource though, for North American Jews who want to become more affiliated and educated in their Judaism.

What caught my eye, though, was this: Read Hebrew America/Canada. The free Hebrew reading course is described as such:

READ HEBREW AMERICA/CANADA (RHA/C) is NJOP’s mega Hebrew literacy campaign to win back the hearts of North American Jews. The Annual RHA/C will take place during the months of October and November! RHA/C invites tens-of-thousands of Jewish adults into synagogues and Jewish centers throughout the United States and Canada to foster Jewish identity and create awareness about the importance of Hebrew literacy by running Hebrew Reading Crash Courses Level I or II or One Day Reviews.

If you can’t make it to learn with the course, try getting familiar with the aleph-bet on your own; there is an interactive aleph-bet to learn the Hebrew letters. If you are making aliyah soon and have absolutely no background, it might be a good idea to familiarize yourself a bit before the leap.

The site has some other great features like:

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