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September 11, 1987 - Image 40

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-09-11

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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LIFE IN ISRAEL

• TROY JEWISH
CONGREGATION

(Traditional-Reform)
invites you to attend

HIGH HOLY DAY SERVICES

Rabbi Milton Rosenbaum

Cantor Marvin Turk

ROSH HASHANAH

Wednesday, Sept. 23, Evening Service 7:45 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 24, Morning Service 10-12:15 p.m.
Family Service 2-3 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 24, "Tashlich" Service 11 a.m.

Friday, Oct. 2, Kol Nidre 7:45
Saturday, Oct. 3, Morning Service 10 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Study Session 12:30-1:30 p.m.
Family Service 2-3 p.m.
Jewish Martyrs 4 p.m.
Yiskor Service 4:30 p.m.
Afternoon/Closing Service 5 p.m.
Havdalah Service 6:30 p.m.

DONATIONS
$50 per person for both holidays

Please make your ticket reservation by calling Larry Littman at

649-1150 or 879-8877

TROY JEWISH CONGREGATION SERVICES

Will be conducted at

NORTHMINSTER PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
3633 West Big Beaver, Troy

THE BRIGHT IDEA

THE JEWISH NEWS

as a gift

354-6060

ARE YOU LOOKING
FOR A TEMPLE TO
CALL YOUR HOME?

TEMPLE BETH JACOB

invites you
to attend

Rosh Hashanah Morning Services

Thursday, September 24
10:00 A.M.

For information and reservations call:

332-3212

TEMPLE BETH JACOB

79 Elizabeth Lake Rd.
Pontiac

40

FRIDAY, SEPT. 11, 1987

ANDY WEINE

Special to The Jewish News

YOM KIPPUR

send

A Gift For Being Tongue-Tied
In The Language Of The Bible

0

nce Hebrew was as
strange to my ears as
Chinese: a mean-
ingless stream of throaty con-
sonental sounds that grated
on my native American ears
like the coughing of an old
chain saw. The effort to learn
such an odd language seem-
ed, to me, monumental. In-
deed, among the many
hurdles confronting the new
oleh (immigrant), Hebrew is
perhaps the most in-
timidating. Yet mastery of the
language was easier than I
expected and, ultimately,
very gratifying.
At first I would listen to
new broadcasts and feel pro-
ud that I could understand
the beginning: Erev toy
v'shalom ray. Hinei ha
hadashot . . . (Good evening
and hello. Here is the news
. . .), but the rest was a blur.
Once in a while my straining
ears would pluck from the
mad verbal rush a few com-
prehensible words.
Speaking was infinitely
more difficult. Words stuck in
my throat like soggy meat-
balls as I struggled to spit out
the simple sentence to the
waitress "At yachola l'havie li
cos mayim?" (Can you bring
me a glass of water?)
Conversing in Hebrew was
like trying to read a poem
after swallowing mouthfuls of
sticky peanut butter. Gloppy
Hebrew words weighed down
my tongue, stuck, and died
there.
Having dinner with my
"adopted" Israeli family —
who, for my questionable
good, spoke only Hebrew —
took all the next day's energy
out of me and required a two-
aspirin antedote to
counteract the massive dam
of Hebrew words that clotted
my brain. Week after week I
would sit at their table, a
blank smile pasted per-
manently on my face as I
strained to tune into the
rapid-fire Hebrew volley of
bickering among the three
daughters, and reprimands
from the parents.
Sitting there, munching
quietly away at my Shabbat
meal, I often felt like — and
probably resembled, too — a
pet dog at a cocktail party,
surrounded by strange
human babbling incom-
prehensible sounds. If I had a
dog's lively ears I am sure
they would have perked
upright in vain attempts to

A Hebrew ulpan: A mixture of redemption and confused gender forms.

understand. And as humans
turn to pat the dog, my Israeli
hosts would turn to me every
half-hour or so and shout, in
word-by-word Hebrew,
"ATAH-LO-ME VIN-MA-
ANACHNU-OMRIM-LO?"
(YOU-DON'T-
UNDERSTAND-WHAT-
WE'RE-SAYING-DO-YOU?)
"LO!" (NO!) I answered, hap-
py that I understood at least
the question.
Yet all was not so dismal.
My aliyah having come short-
ly after that of Anatoly
Shcharansky, I was immense-
ly pleased to see him at a
massive rally in Jerusalem,
clutching a prepared speech
and stumbling over words
just as I would! His Hebrew I
understood! If the audience
could suffer his bumblings
and mispronunciations, then
surely there was hope for me
as well.
There seemed no end to the
utter nonsense I muttered,
the embarrassing goofs and
gaffs, the incredible stares I
received and countless looks
of What-the-hell-is-he-saying
incomprehension.

For instance, like most
whose mother tongue has no
masculine or feminine nouns,
I endlessly confused gender
forms. It was excusable to say
something like, "Please pass
the napkins," and use the
wrong form of napkin, but
quite another thing to be in-
troduced to someone impor-
tant — your new boss, say —
and mistakenly address him
as a woman. Little boys and
girls would also react angri-
ly to my mistakes, yelling
"I'm not a girl!" or "I'm not
a boyt"
On the whole, though,

children were the most ideal
teachers. Their small
vocabulary and eagerness to
help made them my best
possible company in my slow
advancement up the long
Hebrew ladder.
Until Ahuva, that is. For
surely the best aid in learn-
ing Hebrew — and
assimilating into Israeli
society — is an Israeli
girlfriend. I resolutely for-
bade any spoken English bet-
ween us, and she was helpful
as no ulpan could be in ex-
plaining new words from the
blitz that confronted me in
television, newspapers and on
the street.
My other great efforts in
learning Hebrew
newspapers on the kitchen
table, books in easy Hebrew
on my bedstand, a vocabulary
list tacked on the refrigerator
— were not without their
rewards. My first
breakthrough came in
meeting a young Ethiopian
student who, during the
course of several hours, told
me in Hebrew the
suspenseful story of his
aliyah: the secret departure
in the middle of the night,
and the long, lonely march
without food or water.
Hebrew was also the
language in which I learned
from distant German
relatives, now living in Israel,
of their loss in the Holocaust
of two hundred family
members.
Geula and Shoah —
Redemption and Holocaust —
two dimensions of Jewish ex-
perience that I began to
learn, for the first time, in the
nation and language of Jews.

World Zionist Press Service

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