Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ho to speak English like an Israeli

Today I was in the shuk in Tel Aviv with Channah.  Someone started talking to me about something in English at the precise moment that I was haggling on a price with some guy who, truth be told, looked like he would rather just not sell the item.  Now, you and I both know that if just one "potential rich American tourist" word slipped out of my mouth all hope of the reduced price would fly out the window.

So what is a good little native Anglo supposed to do?

Fake it.

1) the biggest difference between the sound of words in English and the sound of words in Hebrew (other than the sound made by clearing your throat of any rocks you might have picked up over the last 5000 years) is where the emphasis is placed in the word.  In English it is almost always at the beginning of the word.  In Hebrew the middle or generally the end is more predominant.

Anglo- GI*raffe.  GUI*tar.  P*yjama.
Heb - gi*RAFFE.  Gui*TARA.  pyja*MA

2) The verb "to be" ceased to exist.

Anglo - I need to go to the store.
Heb - I need go to the store.

3) Any short pause in English  becomes a hold of the previous sound in Hebrew.

Anglo- I m going to (slight pause) the store.
Heb - I am going tooooo the store.

4) A comma becomes an "ehhhh"

Anglo - I need to go to the store to get milk, eggs and cheese.
Heb - I neeeeed go to store for milk ehhh eggs and cheese.

5) Um becomes Em.

Anglo - Um, I have no idea what you are going on about.
Heb - Em, You know you are cra*ZY?

6) Every sentence is a question.

Anglo - I would like to get this cucumber.
Heb - I would like to get thiiiiiis cucumber?

I got my dis*COUNT but EM some*HOW EH I feel a little dirty?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Who comes up with this stuff?

Tomorrow Channah goes to meet her kita aleph teacher.  As a new kita aleph student we got the requisite book and supply lists in the mail.  There was a math book ("cheshbon"- and actually I think there are 4 of them) and a learn to read book, and an intro to chumash book and a bunch of others.  We had to get pencils and erasers and a pencil case.  My mom took her for a brand new school back and she got a trolley thing to cart her million pounds of stuff back and forth every day.

She also had to buy notebooks.

When I was in elementary school learning to write in Hebrew we had special "machbarot" with a picture of a bunch of old men learning and a menorah on the front filled with lines they told us were the lines they used in Israel.  

This stuff.

Everyone had to get a whole bunch of them at the beginning of every year and we used them instead of foolscap paper for all our Hebrew subjects until at least 5th grade- probably longer but as I never did any of my homework anyway I could be remembering that wrong.

So imagine how surprised I was to get to picking out her notebooks, only to discover that she had 3 types of notebooks to get.  Regular lined, graph paper for math, and totally blank.  Not a single red widely spaced line in sight!

I asked Channah's OT today about finding some as I thought it might help her handwriting and she looked at me like I was crazy.  She told me it was only for Americans!  I commented on it on my facebook page and got the surprise of my life.  

Turns out that what I always thought of as Israeli paper is here called a "machberet Anglit" (and English notebook) and is used for teaching kids to write in English!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Other Side of the Rabbi Orlofsky Controversy

I wrote a post yesterday on LJ on this topic. Thanks to the power of Google, it has drawn a lot more attention than I normally get on LJ. After further contemplation, here is a revised version of what I originally wrote.

Earlier this year, due to a technical glitch a customer was having problems redeeming a gift certificate. Before giving me time to work on the problem they reported it to their 1000 member Yahoo group. From there things spiraled out of control, as people bashed me and sent threatening e-mails to our company. I was accused of sending hate mail and one person put the glitch on the same level as bashing gays in the local newspaper. It continued for days, even after the problem was resolved. All I could do was sit on my hands and let our PR person do damage control. By that point the truth wasn't relevant. It was a real life lesson on how much damage can be done on a baseless accusation.

Another similar real life lesson occurred during the battle for control of the mikveh. The battle had already turned ugly, when our Rabbi got involved. His first move was to contact the parties involved to get both sides of the story. There was another Rabbi who I lost all respect for. He accused anyone (including my family) who had experienced events that he claimed never happened of being a liar and was not afraid to do it publicly. On the other hand, at same time I learned a valuable life lesson from our Rabbi about getting the facts before resorting to name calling.

On Sunday night, I saw a blog post and some follow up discussions on how horrible Rabbi Orlofsky is based on some of his comments on an audio clip. He was put on par with the worst criminals the Haredi community has to offer. The basis of the condemnation were two clips. In one clip Rabbi Orlofsky accused Rabbi Hersh Weinreb of stupidity and the 2nd one says that modern orthodox who don't believe in the Gedolim are not bnei Torah.

Rabbi Orlofsky was my Mashgiach in Yeshiva. He had a lunch time seder, where I had to make the Siyum because I was the only one who had been to every class, (including him). While the clips were damning, they lacked context and from I have known seemed out of place. I chose to call Rabbi Orlofsky directly. He has given me permission to share the details of our conversation.

The whole controversy began last Friday when the clips were anonymously sent to the OU office. The clip is from a shiur given 5.5 years ago, the time period during the battle over the banning of Rabbi Slifkin's (who I have a lot of respect for) book. Rabbi Orlofsky had taken the rather lonely position, of standing up for the Gedolim. The lecture was at Ohr LaGolah. While people may consider them to be just ordinary Ohr Sameach students, he pointed out that they are really a seperate program made up of Rabbis who's values include allegiance to the concept of following Gedolei Torah. He felt they had not deserved the name calling and personal insults. He was shocked to be hearing these types of attacks coming from a place like Ohr LaGolah. By his own admission he lost control and went overboard. He was not prepared to hear many of the comments and questions he had been receiving (including name calling of the gedolim), in this setting.

The point of contention was not about which Rav to follow but of the importance of having a Rav in the first place. This has been a long standing Jewish tradition and he was shocked to hear these Rabbis rejecting the concept.

Rabbi Orlofsky has a ton of respect for Rabbi Weinreb and meant that even with all his knowledge Rabbi Weinreb would not consider himself to be a Gadol and goes to the Gedolim for advice. The point was that people who were bashing the authority of the Gedolim (the students) were the same people who follow people who go to the Gedolim when their expertise in halacha are required. The attack was an unjustified way of making the point.

Rabbi Orlofsky has since sought out and received acceptance of his apology from Rabbi Weinreb.

The 2nd clip was Rabbi Orlofsky speaking out against the concept of "Catholic Israel" where it is the people who determine Jewish tradition rather than the Rabbis. The Modern Orthodox was a slip of the tongue after saying Conservative 3 times in a row. Given his lecture style he probably explained the use of the Modern Orthodox term, but the clip cuts out right away. He has said that he would love the opportunity to hear the rest of the tape. An anonymous person has claimed that they have a copy of the tape and threatened to make it public. On behalf of Rabbi Orlofsky, I have requested to arrange to get the recording to him. To date the person has not responded. All I know about the person is their IP address is from Brandeis University.

Rabbi Orlofsky is amazed that with thousands of hours of his recordings around there is only a two minute clip on him. If his shiur was so horrible, what happened to the other 58 minutes?

Not only that, but has no one else ever said anything that was not what they intended or worse yet taken out of context?

Rabbi Orlofsky made a mistake a long time ago. He admits he was wrong and has apologized to the people that he hurt. His life accomplishments are not going to be undone by this incident. As we go into the Yom Neroim, it is important to realize that our actions have consequences. Things are not always as they are appear. If we are quick to condemn others without trying to understand the other side, we are just spreading Sinat Chinam.

I will never know 100% for sure what was going on in Rabbi Orlofsky's head or what he had actually intended to say. My experiences of the past year have taught me that things are not always as black and white as they may appear. Perhaps my friendship with him has allowed me to know him a lot better than the people are attacking him.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Happy Birthday Jason!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JASON!!!! (Yes I am yelling. Everyone needs to know that it is your birthday so they can take a minute to send best wishes to the most patient, even-tempered, , forgiving, friendly, kind, generous, doting, devoted, supportive, sleepy, silly, bed-time story reading, furniture moving in the middle of the night, willing to put up with me guy I know. I love you.)

And now for some cheesy Israeli birthday music.  I am sorry I could not find a recording of your favourite "It's not a party unless there is cake" song.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Toronto Trip -- Sports

The plan is for the next little while to post some of the highlights of our recent trip to Toronto. Fitting in as many sports as possible was an important part of our trip.

It was not practical to bring my hockey equipment with us. I had enough trouble explaining to security at Ben Guerion Airport why I was traveling with my skates and helmet. For the first little while, I borrowed equipment from another goalie when he wasn't using them. When our schedules no longer worked, I borrowed the upper body stuff from a friend who upgraded a few years ago. The lower body equipment, I borrowed from the person who runs the Monday night game. The equipment had been donated a long time ago after someone upgraded their equipment. If the year had been 1983, it would have been state of the art used equipment. One person kept complimenting me on how well I played and that I would be so much better if I had better equipment. Nobody had a stick to spare so my old Monday night game bought one for me to be added to their spare equipment. Thanks Glenn.

I was playing up to 3 games a week. I easily fit back into my regular Monday night game. They have not been able to fill my spot with a regular since I left. I was also able to play a bunch of afternoon games my FIL runs, that I have never been able to play in before. Who has time in the middle of the afternoon to be able to play hockey? I had a great time and made lots of great saves. Goals that I gave up have been easily forgotten. I also spent a lot of time adjusting the borrowed equipment. I stopped a slapshot from a Junior A player which left it's own 'autograph' on my wrist for about 10 days.

I had been looking forward to Halladay's return to Toronto. The game against the Phillies was moved to Philadelphia to make room for the G20 rioting. The Doc ended up pitching on the Friday night so it wasn't that bad. The result was I got to go to two games instead.

I went to Jays/Twins game with my Father and my Uncle. It was a really entertaining game. My Uncle and I paid extra attention to Twins LF Delmon Young who always seemed to be the centre of the action. HR leader Jose Bautista hit an inside the park 2 run homerun when Young was insturmental in taking himself and CF Denard Span out of the play. It was a rare treat to watch. The Jays went on to win 6-5.

The second time, I went with Channah and my Mom to a Sunday afternoon game against the BoSox. The first play was a fly out to LF, which Channah quickly understood that rule. I have never seen anyone cheer so enthusistically for a foul ball. To her it meant the batter had another turn at the plate. She managed to cheer herself out by the 4th inning and my Mom did a great job keeping her entertained the rest of the game. Every once and a while she would turn her attention back to the game. By that point she wasn't sure if a play was good or bad for the team she was cheering for. It was a really fun afternoon. Jays lost 3-2. I don't think Channah has ever been to a sporting event where the home team won. It could be worse, she could be a die hard Cubs fan.

For me one of the highlights was one of the tremendous displays of Achdut that I have ever seen at a baseball game. There were a lot of vocal Red Sox fans in the section next to ours. Every once in a while they would start the cheer "Let's Go Red Sox" At some point it got really embarrasing for a home game and someone would start the response with a " Let's Go Blue Jays" cheer. Around the 6th inning there was a really long back and forth round of cheering that wore down both sides. There was a short pause as fans from both sides stopped to discuss. Then suddenly all at once in perfect unity they started a tremendously loud round of "YANKEES SUCK"

I bought Channah a bright pink Blues Jays Princess hat that has a pink bow that ties in the back. It was perfect for her. I picked up an official batting practise hat for myself. It is a big improvement to what I have been using for tiyuling. I picked up a cute baseball person for Rachel.

Before we made Aliyah I took Channah to the Hockey Hall of Fame. It was really neat because they had just retired my favourite all time player Patrick Roy. Going back was high on her to do list for the trip. We walked in and all she wanted to know was who "the most famous player" was. It was a very different response to last time where her fascination was the giant statue of Ken Dryden, who was "Bubbie's friend" She tried to make my Mom happy by touching "the famous puck" (from the 2010 Olympics). We played two games of bubble hockey which was the one of the main reasons she wanted to go. She thought the Vezina trophy looked like the Beit HaMikdash and no longer recognizes the building featured on the Conn Smyth Trophy. The real lesson of the day was that she will never understand the cultural significance hockey had on myself and Canada as a whole. It is a small price to pay for the better life I am able to offer her here.

It was nice reconnecting with the sports I love. I am going to try to be more proactive in playing hockey this year. It is amazing how little my perception of professional sports has changed since the days where I used to live and breath it. I still follow, just not to the same degree.

Monday, August 2, 2010


Testing posting from my new toy. I seriously love my new phone!

The Move to Nowhere

We have had many people ask us about what happened with the roller coaster scenario of our non-move. So here is the basic story.

We are fortunate to live in an apartment that has a proffessional landlord separate from the owner. She manages a number of buildings, so things have always gone really smoothly. Before leaving she confirmed that there would be no issues renewing our lease for another year. At the beginning of the 9 days, we received a frantic e-mail from her, that the owner has made Aliyah and would like his apartment back. Moving was the last thing we wanted to do. Starting the apartment search out of season, across the ocean created an unpleasant strain to the end of our trip.

On Thursday night we received an e-mail from the landlord. The owner is enjoying life in Kiryat Sefer and would like to renew for another year. However, he is worried he may change his mind and wants the option to terminate the lease on two months notice. Negotiations went back and forth. We went to bed thinking we had an agreement. We would renew for a year. We could each have the option to terminate on 3 months notice, however he could only terminate under a limited set of circumstances. He could not terminate the lease to sell the apartment. As on off hand follow up Rachel sent an e-mail, as it was not discussed confirming there would be no rent increase.

In the morning, we found out the owner agreed to all of the terms but wanted the rent increase. He felt it was reasonable because it matched the going rate in the neighbourhood. We told him he couldn't have it both ways and that no one would move into an apartment with an option to terminate in 3 months. A very short time later he agreed to an unconditional 1 year contract with the nominal rent increase. We are happy with the outcome and will be able to weigh our options from a better position next year.