Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Swirling Thoughts #112 – i'm fluent in pig-latin...

It’s not just about the Hebrew
Asher asked me what the heat was set on. It’s sunny outside but the house is freezing. I told him 77°. What? Oh, yeah. 25° I told him. Somehow Asher (and Asher alone) has mastered Celsius. I’ve noticed with most of my American friends here that fluency in Celsius comes at the expense of fluency in Fahrenheit. You can know both but really only be comfortable in the one used in your current locale. My 10-day forecast includes an 84° day. Or, for Asher’s sake, a balmy 28°.

From one holiday (and its symbolic food) to the next
Hamentaschen have replaced dried fruit in the makolet, the mall and even the health food store. Purim is coming. My costume is top secret on the order of national security. My good friend drove me to a store (whose name I cannot pronounce) in a neighborhood (where I always get lost) to get discounted supplies for mishloach manot. I am ready!

When is Purim, anyway?
My first day of ulpan the teacher made a point of showing us the Hebrew calendar. She contrasted it with the Gregorian calendar and told us that to live in Israel is to live by the Hebrew calendar. To illustrate her point, she asked us when, on the Gregorian calendar, is Pesah?
Late-March, early-April, mid-April, came the answers.
And when is Pesah on the Hebrew calendar?
15th of Nissan!, we all shouted out.

There’s a cute gadget on-line to convert the dates http://www.hebcal.com/converter/
but it’s usefulness is limited. Here’s why.

Most Hebrew text today uses European digits (0, 1, 2, 3...9) to represent numbers. However, religious or biblical text, and calendars in Hebrew will use the traditional form which uses Hebrew letters as numeric values

Barbara is at a birthday party now. The invitation, hanging on the fridge, invited her to come, not on the 25th of Sh’vat, but rather on kaf-hey Sh’vat. In the interest of her own social self-preservation, Barbara quickly mastered the Hebrew calendar.

Happy! Happy! Joy! Joy!
This weekend brought two surprises – the best one being 2 Simchas showing up at my doorstep just before Shabbat. Two Simchas as in cousin Simcha and my sister-in-law Cindy (aka Simcha). These two could not be more aptly named. With happiness, joy and a lot of Hebrew in the air (cousin Simcha is Israeli and sister-in-law Cindy is fluent), I got my second surprise.

When Rosie turned two I had her evaluated for speech therapy because she simply did not speak. Some time before her 3rd birthday, she opened her mouth and spoke. Sentences, paragraphs, soliloquies. And she hasn’t stopped.

Without missing a beat, the sentences have started coming out in Hebrew. And the paragraphs. Even the soliloquies. If you speak to her in English, she answers in English. If you speak to her in Hebrew she answers in Hebrew. Real Israeli-sounding Hebrew.

Less than 3 weeks until Purim. Between them, my kids have mastered Celcius, the calendar and Hebrew. Let’s see what Pesah brings. Pesah, as in tet-vav Nissan.

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