The past few weeks, I’ve been willing to speak Hebrew to most sales clerks (I still need to learn how to say “slices” if I’m going to use Hebrew in Pizza Hut), but not to try and have conversations in Hebrew with my Israeli friends.
It felt pointless. I could do two conversation “volleys” back/forth before I’d cave and go, OK, that’s enough, I have to talk in English now…
But this week, I just started going for it. Oh, I go s – l – o – w (you can practically see the gears turning in m y head; it’s like I’m expecting time to stop until I come up with the right word or verb conjugation; my poor friends just look at me and wait as I stare a million miles off into space, coming up with the word I’m lookng for…), and I need lots of help from them; it’s like I’m a bimbo actress and they’re feeding me lines… But I’m doing it.
Fortunately, I’m blessed with a lack of embarassment. I don’t care if I “look bad” and like an obvious new immigrant by making lots of mistakes when speaking Hebrew. I am one!
I get lots of opportunties to practice throughout my day. Like when I forgot to take my “towel card” from the desk attendant as I left the gym after a workout the other day, and I went back and said שליחה,שחכתי את הקרטיס שלי. תודה, ביי (Sorry, I forgot my card. Thanks, bye!).
Or, when a woman asked me for directions as I waited on my bike at an intersection for the light to change. I didn’t know enough Hebrew to help her out, and I tried to explain this, but she really wanted an answer and wouldn’t accept my limitations. She pointed to the street we were on and asked me (in Hebrew) This is Dizengoff, right? I answered yes, but still couldn’t answer her next question. Eureka! Since I had my bearings, I thought to point to my left and say צפון (north) and to my right and say דרום (south), and she was like (in Hebrew) A-ha! Thanks, Buddy! as she took off in the direction she needed to go. Score!
I was also stoked when I spontaneously answered my boss in Hebrew, and told him a serious piece of information he needed to hear in Hebrew! He was so surprised, and when we eventually switched back into English, he was very encouraging, telling me I had done great. ! אחלה (Arabic slang for “Great!”)
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