Friday, April 13, 2012

Post-Pesach Procrastinators' Remorse

Shabbat shalom, chaverim! It's been a disorienting week here in Nahariya, to say the least. Not attending Ulpan every day left our days without much structure or focus, and I'm sad to say that yet again, I have failed to study Hebrew as much as I hoped I would. That's putting it mildly, really. I didn't start my big pile of Pesach homework until a few days ago, and, while I was procrastinating, suffered with the fear that I'd completely forgotten how to read any Hebrew at all.

Fortunately, that wasn't the case. The worst that happened was that I had to check what the difference was between "past tense" and "present tense" in Hebrew, so I conjugated the verbs on a worksheet in the correct tense. We also had a rather intimidating assignment, which was to take a previous year's final exam. At the end of Ulpan, each student who has attended at least 80% of their classes has the option to take the final exam. The exam is in two parts: first, a ten-minute interview with the Ulpan's manager, and the second is a written exam. The written exam has three different reading comprehension essays, each a page long. Each essay is about a person famous in Israel, e.g. David Ben-Gurion, Nathan Sharansky, and, as in this example below, Rabbi Maimonides. I am already sweating, even though the exam is more than two months away.

Sample Ulpan reading comprehension essay. Did you know "Rambam" spelled backwards is "Mabmar"?

Being away from Ulpan has underscored how seductively easy it would be to give up on learning Hebrew altogether. My "progress" is so painfully slow (even though my teacher says I'm doing fine and am about where I should be at this stage) that it seems impossible that I will ever get anywhere, no matter how hard I try. But then, then I look at other olim who have gone through the same thing and now speak Hebrew with ease, and the only difference between them and me is the amount of time they've been here and the number of hours they've spent hacking away at it. Golda Meier never felt completely comfortable in Hebrew, either. So I need to stop whining--sniff--and just get on with it.

In Israel, some signs are easier to read than others.

On a happier note, last Friday night's Pesach seder was absolutely beautiful. We spent it with our "buddy" family in Nahariya, along with 21 other guests of all generations. These guests included three very interesting young men from Germany, who were volunteering at the nearby Nes Amim Kibbutz, the only Christian kibbutz in the world. Others present were, like our hosts, former members of local Kibbutz Rosh HaNikra, so cherished stories and jokes were flying through the room at lightning speed. The afikomen was duly hidden, then found by two young sisters. The food was wonderful, and our hosts were so gracious. It was a lovely, happy way to spend our first Passover in Israel.

What we didn't realize, though, is that after all shouting about getting rid of chametz (leaven) dies down, what's left for Pesach in Israel is one giant national dinner party and sing-along. When we came home--after midnight--our neighbors in the next building were still going strong. To give you an idea as to what an authentic Israeli Pesach seder sounds like, I stuck a little recorder out the window of our laundry room. The clip below is about five minutes long, with a slide show of Pesach imagry Elul kindly put together. The recording is not fancy, and you'll hear some street noise, but you can hear people drifting between songs, conversations, jokes, and more songs, one after another. This particular party went on until about 2 a.m.

We are still having lots of fun with our kittens, Pini and Dudu. We are getting a very high rate of laugh mileage by coming up with such howlers as "Hey, Elul! You have a little Dudu on your lap!" and "Selah! You almost stepped on my Pini! Hahahaha!" Elul has been shooting even more footage of those two little scamps, but I won't wear out their welcome by making you watch them today. We are using the remote control as a kind of growth index, and Pini, outstretched, is now slightly longer than the remote. Dudu is looking less like a mutant bat these days, and more like a pretty little kitten with a funny face and the beginnings of  a cute little tummy. Aww!

Have a wonderful week, everyone, and welcome back to life with leaven!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for reading my blog. I am interested in your comments, but I will delete anything that is either spam or just plain nasty. Please do not use the comments forum as a political or religious soapbox--there are SO many other online forums for those kinds of tedious arguments!