Hebrew Reading Skills
I read Hebrew--sort of. I know most of the words in the Siddur, fewer in the Tanakh, and can with patience and difficulty, decode some of the newspaper and the subtitles on television.
My husband, who has lived here before and is much more fluent than I am, naturally reads better than I do.
Nonetheless, it does no good to have Hebrew reading skills if you DON'T read the documents first.
Mike does something quite sensible when confronted with any Israeli bureaucrat who says he can't do something and tells Mike to go elsewhere. Mike always asks for a note in Hebrew, and never has he been turned down. He got a note from the post office guy for Bituach Leumi when we were re-routed there; he got a note from Misrad Hapnim when they sent us to the Rabbinut. We needed to go to the Rabbinut to file Mike's get and civil divorce papers with the Rabbinut so I can 'officially' be on my husband's teudat zehut as his wife.
However, having a note doesn't help if you don't READ the note yourself.
We raced to an appointment at the Rabbinut the other day and Mike pulled 'the note' out of his wallet and asked the security guards where in the building he was supposed to go.
The security guards looked at the note and said, "Oh, no, you're in the wrong place. You need to go to the Russian Compound, by the police station."
We looked at each other blankly. The Russian Compound? There's a beit din there?
We power-walked on the hottest day of Jerusalem's summer to date from the top to the bottom of Ben Yehuda and raced across Yafo and up to the Russian Compound without seeing any signs of official rabbidom. We asked another security guard (the ubiquitous fixture of modern Israeli life, and frequently a source of immense information) where 'this' was, 'this' being the address on the note.
"Oh, around the corner from the church, next to the police station," he told us.
So we hiked over to the police station, got more directions from a friendly officer, and walked to the exact address -- of the police reserve unit.
My husband was a cop in the US for years, and is friendly with many police officers in Jerusalem as well. The 'note' he yanked out of his pocket and showed to the various security personnel contained the directions to a lunch date with a friend of his on the Jerusalem Police Department......not the address of our date with the Rabbinut.
Fortunately we're the kind of people who leave early so we can only be a little late after getting lost, so we rushed back to Yafo, grabbed a cab and raced back to the Rabbinut. There, finally in the correct building, a nice and helpful woman looked at the CORRECT note and asked in a puzzled voice, "Why were you told to be here today?"
We looked at each other, shrugged, and snitched off the guy in the next cubicle who was the one who told us to be here on this particular date.
The woman sighed. "He must have looked at the wrong file. I'm looking at your file here in the computer and you aren't scheduled to be here until October 16th. Come back then."
It should be about 20 degrees cooler in October, school will be well underway and the chaggim will be over. October is a great date.
And this time, we'll READ the note first.