30 Aug

Shalom.  Ani Fish Natan Israel.  Ani mi America.  Ani gar bi Yafo bi Rehov Raziel akshav.  Ani oved bi baseball.  Any lomed evrit bi Ulpan Gordon bi Rehov Lassalle bi Tel Aviv bi Israel.  Ani telmid tov meod.  Ani lo tayar.  Ani oleh chadash.

No, faithful follower, lady, geetle, that is not your glass eye playing tricks on you, nor has your computer screen been possessed by Jewish goblins again, it is ME, speaking hebrew.  That’s right, my metamorphosis in nearly complete.  I have changed from an english master, an AMERICAN LITERARY GENIUS, to a pre-school level Hebrew speaker in only 2 days.

I started hebrew class this week and can already say the 9 sentences above that I will be expected to perform in front of the class at our next session.  For Philistines who, unlike me, embarrassingly, DO NOT speak the ancient mystical tongue of the Sun God Ra, it says, “Hi.  My name is Fish Natan Israel (my name here).  I am from America. I live in Jaffa on Raziel street now.  I work in baseball.  I learn hebrew at Ulpan Gordon on Lassalle street in Tel Aviv in Israel.  I am a very good student.  I am not a tourist.  I am a new immigrant.”

the tower of Babel


There are 25 of us in class.  We represent 15 countries; America, England, France, England, Brasil, the Ukraine, kazakhstan, Russia, South Africa, Italy, and countries I cannot name here because the student’s whereabouts are unknown.  It’s like the tower of babel, but under florescent light.  Not sure why, but I thought ulpan was going to be like an opium den, beautiful people laying around on couches and rugs, legs draped over one another, smoking cigarettes and sipping coffee, casually learning Hebrew, maybe watching movies in Hebrew, picking up a new word or a phrase here or there.  But alas, in two days, our lovely mora has not spoken a word of English.  There is no common language between us anyways, so she just speaks hebrew.  There are no questions. If I lose focus for even a minute, I am lost.  Class is from 8am-1pm, Sunday through Thursday.  So we will be together 5 days a week, 5 hours a day, for the next 5 months.  Each day we will be expected to learn at least 25 new words after which we will be released to the unforgiving streets of Tel Aviv to read signs and speak in full sentences all on our own.

Of the 25 students in class, I learned, I am the only one who has a job, not to mention a full-time job, not to mention a full-time job that is also A DIRECT MISSION FROM THE DIVINE SPIRIT, and, I believe, though it’s not yet confirmed, who lives in an art cave and maintains a blog of such magnificence as to blind ALL of its readers.

This is my destiny.  And somewhere far, far away, Janet Jackson plays a saxophone solo in my honor.  I am almost sure of it.

4 Responses to “ULPAN”

  1. Diane Mason August 30, 2013 at 9:16 pm #

    Keep up the good work! But remember to include English in your blog in the future for those of us for whom Hebrew does not just roll elegantly from the tongue!

  2. mbloomberg August 30, 2013 at 10:37 pm #

    I’m impressed with your facility at languages! We will have to conduct all of our communication in Hebrew from now on, a language I do not understand. But since we can not get ahold of you via g-chat, we can NOT communicate in Hebrew or English or any other language of your choosing. Please get a gas mask!

  3. Polly Merdinger August 31, 2013 at 7:20 am #

    Nate — I am so proud of you! I read those beautiful 9 sentences with tears in my eyes.
    Ata talmid metsuyan (By tomorrow, you’ll know what that means).
    Love you!

  4. Ari Gauss September 7, 2013 at 5:39 am #

    A far-away sax solo? Nah, that’s just the shofar. Kol hakavod, Nate.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: