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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

:) You're going to have to stop telling me these stories till after you blog them, it's not as fun knowing the outcome/punchline before it happens! :) hee hee

see ya tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006 at 4:11:00 PM GMT+3  
Blogger aliyah06 said...

Ok, from now on, no previews! [grin]

Thursday, September 14, 2006 at 5:00:00 PM GMT+3  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh good grief...how funny is that?! (Perhaps, not to you guys walking here, there, & everywhere), but you made me have a good chuckle!!!

Thursday, September 14, 2006 at 8:52:00 PM GMT+3  
Blogger Lady-Light said...

This is great! You definitely need a good sense of humor if you live in Israel and don't speak the language fluently. I once read a survey given to former Americans in Israel (it might have been all Anglos, I don't remember details), who were asked, what is the most difficult part of making aliyah? The general consensus was learning the language. Most of those in Israel for years even, said that they still don't feel 100% Israeli, because they still miss nuances, idioms, can't fully understand the newspapers, etc.-in short, don't fully feel fluent in Ivrit. I applaud your efforts in learning Ivrit, and wish you much hatzlachah(if I had written that in Hebrew, would your computer have been able to read it??) I, too, am going to Israel soon...perhaps we could meet?

Friday, September 15, 2006 at 2:53:00 AM GMT+3  
Blogger aliyah06 said...

Jilly--always glad to provide a chuckle....we wouldn't have made it this far together if we didn't have a sense of humor. That's Beverly's legacy, I'm sure--the ability to laugh at the worst that life can dish out.

Lady-Light--of course we can meet! When are you arriving? Thanks for the good wishes; I would agree that language is the biggest challenge, although I've found that most Israelis go out of their way to help when they realize you're struggling. I would love to be as fluent in Hebrew as I am in English, but it will take years and I'm not sure I have that much time! ((-:

Friday, September 15, 2006 at 10:58:00 AM GMT+3  
Blogger chicagoG said...

i have a question regarding the aliya of your dog.
did NEFESH B' NEFESH paid for the dogs trip too?
we have a dog and i was woundering about that since regular cost is 300 dollars or more to bring the dog.
you can also e.amil me at gali_b@yahoo.com

Saturday, September 16, 2006 at 5:19:00 PM GMT+3  
Blogger aliyah06 said...

I actually don't know. We never asked if NBN would pay for the dog--I know lots of people bring their pets on NBN...but since we didn't use an NBN flight and simply jumped on El Al, we paid for the dog and both cats to come with my husband. Now he's without rights as he is already an Israeli citizen so he paid to bring them with him on his (earlier) flight. Good question--I should've asked....

Sunday, September 17, 2006 at 12:08:00 PM GMT+3  
Blogger Mia said...

That was hilarious - of course not for you guys on the hottest day of the year, but at least it made great blog-material.

When I am in one of these situations where everything goes wrong (missing a plane, being at the wrong place at the wrong time etc.) I have to think that at least it makes a great post and I get a smile in my face :D

Monday, September 18, 2006 at 12:37:00 AM GMT+3  
Blogger Basya said...

Too funny!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 at 10:24:00 AM GMT+3  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

typical third world

Thursday, October 26, 2006 at 12:43:00 AM GMT+2  

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