Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The good, the bad, and the ugly.

.הטוב, הרע, והדוחה

But let's get the "bad" out of the way first...

This afternoon, at around 2:00, I received an SMS emergency text message from Nancy asking that I text her back my name and whether I was okay. This is standard procedure when there's a violent attack in a place where any students might be. I was safe in my apartment, and I texted her, and then I immediately went to check the Israeli news websites. I didn't see anything, and since I wanted to get my wireless internet set up before the 4:00 trip to Talpiot, I got on the phone with Netvision. After some time, they told me that technical service would call me back (thus making the Talpiot trip impossible), and shortly thereafter, I began talking to Jessica on Skype. It wasn't until the middle of our conversation that I remembered the text message and checked the news again. This is what I found. (The Talpiot trip, naturally, was canceled.)

For those who don't have time to follow the link, I'll summarize. There was yet another bulldozer attack in Jerusalem by another east Jerusalem resident (this one 22 year old...) wherein 24 people were wounded and another bus attacked. This is definitely bad news, though thankfully no one was killed aside from the attacker.

I don't really know what to say on the matter. It happened fairly close to here, but what can one do? I was thinking, as I waited for the internet people to call me back (for over four hours...) that this is what they mean when they say that Israelis just have to keep on keeping on despite the potential horrors of their day to day lives. Part of me wondered if Netvision would shut down because of the attack, but I immediately dismissed that as ludicrous: Israel doesn't shut down for these sorts of things. Even during wartime, life continues (as was indicated to me by my friend Nicole who was here during the Lebanon War two years ago).

Of course, I continue to hope and pray for the safety of the entire country, and there's a special place my thoughts for those I know and are close to here. But aside from vigilance (which is actually taken seriously here as opposed to the ridicule given toward the "Is that your bag?" movement in Washington, DC), I don't know what one can do. Pray and keep on living. That's sort of the motto of the Jewish people, isn't it?

Speaking of the Jewish people, how about we move on to the good? First, yesterday I went up to Hebrew University with a Wexner friend of mine in order to scope out the bus ride for Jessica. Getting up and back was very simple, and I'm really starting to get the hang of moving around Jerusalem (and Israel in general). (Keyword: Starting.) With each day that passes, this feels more like home ... and with each time I have to ask an Israeli to repeat herself, I'm reminded that this is only temporary.

Additionally, I'm beginning to settle down into some sort of pattern regarding my Hebrew class. I was placed into Dalet, which is the highest of our four classes, so I have an exciting opportunity to really excel in my Hebrew. (Two of my classmates have lived for a year or more in Israel, and the rest are certainly close to or above my own level of comprehension.) There are nine of us, a number that is comfortable but larger than I'm used to in a Hebrew language course. Still, of course, I like my classmates, and I'm looking forward to spending this summer and much of the upcoming year with them.

To share with you a bit of what we're doing and (mostly) to practice my Hebrew typing (a skill that I'm trying to cultivate a bit at at time), I'll share a joke that was included in one of our selections. The translation follows:

יום אחד הרשלי היה רעב. הוא נכנס למסעדה הזמין ארוחה גדולה והתחיל לאכול. פתאום נכנס למסעדה מכר שלו, נידש להרשלי והתחיל לשאול על בני המשפחה.

--מה שלום הדוד?
--הדוד מת, ענה הרשלי.
--באמת?! אמר המכר, ואשתו?
--גם היא מתה, ענה הרשלי.
--מה אתה אומר?! והילדים שלהם?
--גם מתו.
--מה קרה?! נבהל המכר, פרצה אצלכם מגפה בעיר שכולם מתים?
--לא מגפה ולא כלום, ענה הרשלי, אבל כשאני אוכל כל העולם מת בשבילי

One day, Hershli was hungry. He went into a restaurant, ordered a big meal, and began to eat. Suddenly, his friend entered the restaurant, approached Hershli, and began to ask about his family.

"How's your uncle?"
"My uncle's dead," replied Hershli.
"Really?" said his friend. "And his wife?"
"She's also dead," answered Hershli.
"What are you saying?! What about their children?"
"Dead too."
"What happened?!" the friend stammered. "Was there a sudden outburst of plague in your city, so everyone died?"
"No plague, no nothing," said Hershli. "But when I'm eating, the entire world is dead to me."

So, there's a bit of Hebrew class humor for you. :-)

And now, for the ugly. Along with this whole "Hebrew improvement" thing comes learning new vocabulary. A lot of new vocabulary. So far, I've taken almost 7 pages of vocab notes in the three days we've been in class, and I've made flash cards for every one. It's a LOT, but I decided that I really want to dedicate myself to learning as much as I can while I have this free time because in the future, I won't have nearly as much time to devote to studying Hebrew. Now, my afternoons are relatively open, so I can spend a couple hours copying flashcards and studying them. Hopefully, I'll develop a rhythm that can help me out during the year (because I'll be in Hebrew class at least once a day for the entire school year as well).

On the bright side, I can only go up from where I am, and where I am is pretty good. I can conduct most of my mundane errands in Hebrew, I can converse with cab drivers in Hebrew, and I can even understand more than 50% of the children's TV I watch in Hebrew! So as I struggle with these new vocabulary words (such as framework, decoration, scar, miserable, suspect, etc.), I'll inevitably be learning. Who knows - maybe by the end of the year, I'll only have to listen to the news two or three times before being able to understand the newscaster! And that's a goal we can all get behind!

1 comment:

Jeff H. said...

As you may have seen, Amanda also posted about the bulldozer incident in her blog. Glad you're all OK. One thing that struck me in the JPost link was the casual use of the word "verified."

I certainly agree with your priorities. Terrorism, that's bad. But flash cards .... ewwwwww, that REALLY brings back unhappy memories.