Tuesday, November 25, 2008

May you be comforted

I don't even know where to start with this. We have ongoing assignments in Ulpan to write a story on a particular topic and read it in front of the class. The current topic is "best friend."

This morning in class, a student wrote about his first wife, who died a few years ago. Today was her yahrzeit. She sounds like she was an amazing woman, and our classmate certainly did his part in elevating her neshama (soul) today. It was a privilege to share in her story.

That's not what got to me. Well, yes, her story did touch me, of course. But in any classroom, anywhere, this story could have been heard. Many people have lost loved ones, and have shared stories about them.

But what wouldn't typically happen in a typical classroom anywhere? You wouldn't have the entire class be attentive while the storyteller gave a learning, and then stand together while he recited Kaddish (mourner's prayer), with nearly the whole class giving the appropriate responses. You wouldn't have that followed by a little nosherei in the wife's honour. You wouldn't have all this done with the teacher's approval, encouragement and participation.

It was an honour to be a part of this man's observance of his first wife's yahrzeit, and I am grateful he felt this was something he wanted to share with his classmates. And I am so grateful to be in a country where this didn't seem at all out of place. To anyone.

May her memory be for a blessing.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Someone's gotta toot his horn

Quick! Run out and pick up the latest edition (24 November 2008)of The Jerusalem Report! Turn to page 66 and before you do anything else, read the byline.

Then let Morey know how impressed you are that he's been published in a major Israeli magazine. :) You can read an excerpt of the article here.
You won't find caped crusaders or masked superheroes in any of these comic books. Instead, Miriam Libicki's "jobnik!" chronicles her day-to-day life in the Israeli army in frank, often blunt terms. Jobnik is Israeli slang for soldiers in non-combat roles. More of an illustrated diary than a comic, "jobnik!" takes us behind the heroic façade, to where soldiers wash dishes, file reports and fool around.
If you want to read the whole article, you have to buy the magazine.

If you want to buy Miriam's comic, you can order it here.

If you want to give Morey a Mazal Tov!, you can email him here.

Yasher koach, Moe!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Vote early, vote often

Today we voted in our very first Israeli elections! Exciting stuff.

After being told that we weren't eligible to vote, we received voting cards in the mail. Which, naturally, confused us. Upon investigation, we discovered that the candidate for mayor who informed us we weren't eligible, was wrong. That does not bode well for a mayoral candidate. And it meant we had to cram about who to vote for.

So today, we took our voter cards, found our polling place, asked for help in English, listened to one of the volunteers make a joke about all the people asking for help in English - probably not realizing that we understood what she was saying - and were shown to our voting room.

Only one person at a time can go into the whole room. I showed my Teudat Zehut (identity card), gave the (thankfully English-speaking person who was extremely friendly and helpful and enthusiastic about this being my first time voting in Israel) my voting card, she confirmed me on the list (I was dead last) and gave me a yellow envelope (for mayor) and a white envelope (for city council). I took my envelopes, went behind a cardboard screen, picked up a yellow square of paper with my candidate's name on it and put it in the yellow envelope, then picked up a square of white paper with the party's designation on it and put that in the white envelope. Then I came out from behind the cardboard screen, and placed my envelopes in the big box and "ze hu!" I was done.

I don't know what they would have done if I didn't read Hebrew, but I was excited that I could read all the candidate's names without thinking about it. It's such a simple process here, yet I feel disproportionately proud about voting. Maybe because it emphasizes the fact that I am here. Gee, how am I going to feel about voting in the Federal election??

(yes, yes, I know, we need to post more. It's hard during Ulpan. Ulpan sucks your brain dry. There is no thought power left after Ulpan. Well, after Ulpan and Facebook.)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Hebrew for dummies

Dear Blog,
Today in Hebrew skool we uzed our sissers and made big cuts in our notebooks. Then we drew lots of lines and rote words at the top for catagoecatagorees. Then teacher yelled us at us becuz we rote the catagorees rong. I membered to bring my erasur, my ruler, my pensil sharpener, my sissers and my yellow magic marker. Then teacher had us rite words in Hebrew but we had to be very very careful to put the rite word on the rite page. I did not want teacher to yell at us again.

Yep, this is what we’ve been reduced to. Arts and crafts for first graders. Every day I have to come home and look at myself in the mirror and say, “I am a college graduate” just to remind myself.