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Kohav Ya’ir

We had a change in plans on eruv Yom Kippur. My son had spent the night at a friend’s house and we were planning on picking him up. However, he called and asked if he could stay with his friend over Yom Kippur. We agreed, so we had to pick him up this afternoon.

However, the first thing each weekday is uplan. To the best of my knowledge, Israel is the only country in the world that actually knows how to start and end each week properly. Sunday is the first day of the week and Saturday is the last, so in Israel, the work days start on Sunday and the weekends are Friday and Saturday.

Anyway, today in ulpan (among other things), I learned how to ask about birthdays.

בן כמה אתה? אני חושב שאני בן ארבעימ וחמש.

That should translate to “How old are you? I think that I am forty-five”, but the literal word-for-word translation is strange: “Boy how much you? I think that I boy forty-five.”

Sixth grade cross guards

Enough Hebrew for now. After ulpan, I picked my daughter up from school. They put the 6th graders to work here in Ra’anana as cross guards at the intersections. They do a great job in the morning, but the afternoon shift can get a bid hot and boring.

I wanted to take some pictures of my daughter’s school, but the armed guard at the gate was not happy about photographs being taken. I can shoot with my camera and he can shoot with his sidearm, so I did a quick mental trade-off analysis and determined that the best option was to take no more photographs. As a result, I only have one distant photo from the school’s outer fence.

The Ariel Elementary School

This is part of the walk home.

Part of the walk from school to home

The trip to pick up my son was uneventful, but still a bit interesting. His friend lives in Kohav Ya’ir which is a small town to the north-east next to the West Bank. Since we are newbies in Israel, we were specifically told to avoid the shortest drive through the town of Tira, since it is primarily an Arab town.

Instead, we took a route that was only about 10 minutes longer. Along the way, we had a nice view of the city of Qalqilya which is definitely a primarily Moslem town. I know because I could not count all the minarets — there were just too many. Later, I looked the town up on Google maps and determined that it is in the so-called West Bank. The photo is terrible; there must have been at least 30 minarets that I could see from the road, but most of them cannot be easily seen in the photograph.

Minarets in Qalqilya

Kohav Ya’ir is a really nice, quiet town. Here are some photos of the drive through the town. Try to ignore all of the dirt on the windshield.

Categories: Israel Tags: , ,

School

My wife and I started school today. Actually, my wife started. I mostly just waited in line. The school is called “ulpan” which is a fancy Hebrew word that means something like “Hebrew Language School for Dummies.”

We tried to register all last week, but there were just too many schedule conflicts. We knew that classes started today (on Sunday), so in a desperate attempt to get registered, we finally managed to show up at the “Absorption Center” last Friday. We arrived at about 2:00 pm and were greeted by a friendly, non-English speaking security guard. After suffering through 10 minutes of broken English, broken Hebrew, and broken sign-language, we finally learned that it was closed and that we should return on Sunday at 8:00 a.m.

Today, Sunday, we arrived at 8:20 to register. There were many people in line in front of us. Some spoke French, some English, others spoke Russian. The clerks and teachers, of course, spoke Hebrew and also have pretty good English skills. The line was not that long, but it moved very slowly. Think of the speed of the Los Angeles (so-called) freeway during rush hour. Even better, if you have been to an amusement park, think of the line at the “log jam” ride. This line just wouldn’t move.

Finally, they pulled a bunch of us out of the registration line to take a test to determine our Hebrew skill level. The test was all in Hebrew. It looked like it would be easy for a kindergartener. I figured out where to put my name and phone number. I also managed to answer three questions on the five-page test. I think I may have even answered them correctly.

My wife spent a couple of minutes working the test and finally said that it was ridiculous and that she was just going to start at the bottom level (called aleph). I figured that I would be joining her, but when my test was evaluated, they decided I should be in aleph+. I think that’s because I could spell my name (seriously).

My wife joined her class right away, but aleph+ doesn’t start until next Sunday. So I was given the task of standing in line and registering both of us. Remember the “log jam” line I mentioned earlier? There were only five people in front of me, but it took about an hour. I have a theory about why it took so long. When it was my turn, it only took about 5 minutes. I can speak a bit of Hebrew and the clerk could speak broken-English, so we could communicate. A couple of other English speakers also took about 5 minutes. But try to imagine a French or Russian speaker trying to register with a clerk who only knows Hebrew and broken-English. That takes a bit of time.

I have four children, but only three are living with us. They all started different schools last week. The classes are all in Hebrew, however they get pulled out of the classroom for their own ulpan. So far, it is all going according to plan. They go to school and come back claiming they didn’t learn anything. It might not be a good plan, but it is the plan. I’ve been told that they will be able to communicate within a couple of months. In the meantime, the class room learning that they are missing (or not understanding) will be supplemented via tutoring.

My wife will have class on Monday and Tuesday and then there will be a break for Rosh HaShana. While she’s in class, I think I’ll spend some time re-learning forgotten Hebrew skills — I need to be prepared for the advanced aleph class (where students can spell their names.)

Categories: Hebrew, Israel Tags: , ,
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