Last week I celebrated the one-year anniversary of my conversion to Judaism. In true Israeli fashion, the week did not disappoint – I attended a concert, met new friends, ate delicious food, and enjoyed many celebratory drinks and several nights ending after 3am. I thought about writing a sentimental post about my conversion, about what it means to me to be Jewish, and about why I keep choosing to be in Israel; but I think I’ve been sentimental enough in recent posts.
Instead, I have compiled (for your enjoyment) a list of 10 ridiculous and otherwise silly Israeli moments. Most of them occur because of my complete inability to speak the Hebrew language in a comprehensible manner. There are so many of these moments that I try to keep track of them in a small green notebook I carry around with me everywhere I go. The list is affectionately called “The Chicken Time List” and you will find out why if you read all the way down to #1. Some of these moments are mine, and some belong to friends. In fact, some of my friends have their own dedicated page in “The Chicken Time List” because their lives here tend to be so outrageous.
There is truly never a dull moment here. Sometimes the moments are embarrassing, or funny, or even frustrating, but never dull!
(And sorry to my family who has already heard most of these!)
10. A friend wanted to know if a restaurant had any grapes. Instead he asked, “Are there any rocks here?”
9. I often mix up the words for “hour” (sha-ah) and “year” (shanah). I say great things like: “I worked on my doctorate for 4 hours,” and “I lived in California for 9 hours,” and “I came to Israel almost 3 hours ago for the first time.”
8. Instead of asking about someone’s family (mishpacha), I kept asking about their kitchen (meetbach). “So, do you have a big kitchen?” “How many people are in your kitchen?” “Do you like your kitchen?” They were very confused at first.
7. At a restaurant I very confidently asked my friend, in front of the waiter, if he wanted to order someone (mishahoo). I, of course, meant to ask if he wanted to order something (mashahoo).
6. In a serious discussion about prisons in Israel I repeatedly referred to the prison (cavah) as a dog (kelev). "So, how many people lived in the dog?" "Was it a dog for bad people?" "Who worked in the dog?"
5. I was really lost in Haifa at night with my friend when I saw two men walking down the street. I wanted to ask them for directions so I enthusiastically rolled down my car window and yelled "Excuse me, miss!"
4. At SuperPharm (like Walgreens) with my friend buying contacts, we proudly determined that one box was for the left eye and one was for the right eye. Later we found out they were monthly and daily lenses.
3. During class, my Hebrew teacher asked a student (in Hebrew, of course) what color his shirt was. He quickly answered, "Cat!" but his shirt was plain blue.
She asked the next student, who said “white!” but his shirt was also just blue.
She gave up and asked us to turn to a new assignment in our textbook.
2. I went into a store and said to the clerk “I need to help you!” instead of saying “I would like some help!” I really did not understand the look on her face and why she kept saying “why?” Duh…“because I really need to help you!” I kept saying.
1. Repeatedly yelling, “chicken time!” instead of “never!” (Slight difference between of and af in Hebrew). Finally someone asked me why I was talking about chickens and I realized my error.
As a final note, I promise that my Hebrew is getting better. Some evidence: last week at a bar two men started talking about me in Hebrew thinking that I did not understand. They didn’t say anything bad, but were just trying to find out how old I was, etc. I turned and said in Hebrew to one of them “I understand what you’re saying!” Their look of surprise was excellent. Almost starts to make up for all those chicken time moments…almost... :)