Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Day 1!

Forgive the delay, it takes a rather long time to write this and I am in class for 10 hours a day.  I'll try and keep up better.

Today starts day one.  When I arrived, we first had the standard introductions.  It is nice to know who we are learning with I will admit.  We were split off into two groups for Shacharit.  There is a standard davening group and a learner's group.  I chose the learner's group.  While I know the service and can for the most part keep up, I decided it would be nice to understand some deeper understanding of what I am doing.  Understanding creates meaning which creates feeling.We delved into the opening sections of the service and as much as I understand it, I have a better understanding of why.  It was less davening and more learning, but I was perfectly ok with that.  After, we had a nice breakfast on the house this morning and I was able to bond yet more with my new friends and get to meet some of new ulpan classmates.

Now it is ulpan time!  I admit to slight terror.  My previous attempts to learn languages were not terribly successful.  Four years of French in school and nothing ever really stuck.  It was a source of constant frustration for me.  I am just hoping the ulpan method is more effective than the way language is taught in American public schools.  The method used is truly awful.  Don't even get me started on the complete illogic of first starting in Middle School vs pre-school/kindergarten.  We have our books and started straight in.  As many of you know, I can read block phonetically pretty well.  So can most american Jews, but of course no actual language skills.

Moving on to the actual class.  At first I am ok since I have my foundation and I do know a few random words here and there.  It is a start.  It actually made the first class relatively easy and that we haven't covered that much.  How much can I really say.  The class is done in Hebrew almost exclusively, which of course makes you just used to actually hearing Hebrew.  I fear it won't stick, so of course I plan to review it a lot.  I am throwing myself into this hoping it will actually be good.

I had a relatively quiet lunch on the house as well today.  Thank you so much CY for more pita.  As my facebook friends know, I have a rather low opinion of pita in LA.  I don't care how fresh it is, something is just missing.

The afternoon is my first class on Tanach, finding Gd's place.  It is a very fascinating look at Abraham's journeys first entering the land of Israel and his travels down and back up from Egypt.  You see the repeating patterns and the connections it makes later on.  It is the beginning of actually understanding the geography of Abraham's travels and what that really means.  I am thoroughly enjoying the class.

So now is time for Nusach.  I have been really looking forward to this class.  We are focusing primarily on the weekday service nusach, particularly the Amidah.  I am seeing the differences right away from the Shabbat melody.  Beyond the key change, they are subtle.  Again, I have to park my expectations at the door and start from scratch.  Did I mention my brain hurts?  I just keep getting that Shabbat melody in my head.  I have to force it out.  It is not easy.

After this very long day, I made a quick stop at the Shuk for dinner.  It is such a pain with almost no Hebrew skills.  I know very soon it won't be an issue for the most part, but right now it is driving me nuts.  I have taken to using 20 shekel bills and 10 shekel coins to pay for everything, leaving me with this mountain of small stuff.  It isn't easy with a small kitchen to cook either mind you, but I am muddling through.  I do miss my kitchen at home.


  1. Well Sam, sounds like you are really in it. Language is one area I always struggled with so I understand the challenge. But, you are very motivated and that is a big plus. Just go with it. Forget about past difficulties!

  2. Definitely in agreement on the American approach to teaching other languages in public school. NOT! As for the pita, it's what you put IN IT that counts! Is falafel to Israel like a taco is to Mexico, an American invention? I think not....regardless, I want to hear more about the FOOD!!!! XO HAPPY TRAILS.......J

  3. Judy,

    Falafel's origins are not clear. It is a very political issue, is it really from Egypt? Is falafel made with chickpeas fake and real falafel is only made from fava beans? This is fraught with peril.

    Food, oh what can I say? I go to the Hollywood farmer's market regularly when I am at home and I must say the shuk can have the same quality produce without costing and arm and a leg. I won't even start about the superior cheeses here, minus the goat cheese from the Hollywood farmer's market. That is very special. The dairy here is just soooo good. It is just an experience buying food here, kind of like going to Hollywood on steroids in terms of the crazyness. Perhaps it is that there is more people cramped into less space. If you really want to get a feel, you have to stay here for a time and sublet an apartment. It is just so much different than being on a tour.