Sunday, August 17, 2008

Shabbat and Homework

Note to self: You will never want to do homework on Saturday night even though you have class on Sunday. Do whatever needs to happen for Sunday on Thursday or Friday.

Putting aside my difficulty acclimatizing (in Hebrew: לאכלם/l'aclem; no really, that's the word!) to having classes on Sunday, I did have a wonderful shabbat. One true highlight was having shabbat dinner at Melila's. The crew included her husband (a sculptor), her teenage son (who made almost all the delicious food for dinner), two friends who were having birthdays, two other "couples-with-young-kids" (one of whom starting feeling the pain of an ear infection in the middle of the evening and had to be taken up the road to the 24-hour infirmary) and another teenager who I believe had at one point been adopted or at least fostered by one of the other families in attendance.

I met Melila at synagogue (Kol HaNeshama, a nearby Reform shul; yes, a Reform shul in Jerusalem!) and as we started walking home, I told her I only wanted to speak Hebrew. It turned out that the folks at dinner were mostly a Hebrew-speaking bunch so that was fine with them. Often, when I tell people where I'm living, they warn me that I'll have to work hard if I want to find any "real Israelis" to spend time with in my neighborhood. Melila and family are definitely that elusive catch! Not only are they "real Israelis" but also a warm and funny and smart bunch. At one point, they were all talking animatedly about something that I could only understand as "benches" and I struggled for a while trying to get the gist. Was ספסלים/safsalim sometimes used to mean something other than "benches?" Had I gotten it confused with something else? Was it a metaphor for something? No. Dror, Melila's husband (or her "beloved" or "couple-mate" as she refers to him) is, as I said, a sculptor and had just finished working on a series of large, ceramic benches for a park somewhere else in the country (Petach Tikva maybe?) and folks were talking about how well the benches had turned out. Then we looked at pictures and, yes, they definitely were benches and gorgeous artworks to boot.

Melila also generously gave me advice on some of the learning choices I have to make in the coming weeks. She is a Zohar scholar and I hope to get at least some opportunities to learn with her on a regular basis, but we also talked about how to accomplish my goal of truly immersing in Hebrew and being able to claim it as a language of mine. She even "set me up" with one of the other dinner guests (and a dear dear friend of hers, Yakira) who needs to improve her English in order to finish her degree.

We're hoping to meet, drink coffee (that might sometimes be our favorite part), and split our time between English and Hebrew. She'll bring texts that she needs to work on for her exams and I'll probably bring something from Ha'aretz (a daily Israeli newspaper with a reputation for excellent some circles it is also regarding as somewhat least that's what I think they were saying in Hebrew). I did a little bit of work with articles from Ha'aretz last year with my teacher Harvey B. and it turns out that I love reading (and struggling through with dictionary in hand) their book reviews. I've printed out one that I think is about dream interpretation and one that may or may not be about a new book from France about the Salem witch trials. I tried to call Yakira, but she was wrangling a cranky baby (yet another Tamar!) so, we'll see if we get to start meeting this week or not.

I'm blogging from Tamar C.'s where I've been hanging out in the air conditioning, doing some homework, avoiding some other homework, and now we're going to eat delicious meat-y leftovers!

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