Thursday, January 28, 2016

The End of Ulpan

We are still having so many "firsts" that it's a bit hard to believe that we had our first "ending" here: we just had our last day of ulpan.  5 months of 20 hours a week intensive (in case that's not clear!) language instruction is now over.  Also, never again will we be the "new olim" in class, since new people are always arriving here....

We had a 2.5 hour final exam on Wednesday.  Some people were getting a bit worked up about it: "Are you nervous about the final???".  I said that every time we opened our mouths to speak with someone in Hebrew, THAT was our final exam.  But it was definitely an interesting experience to take my first final exam in MANY years.  (Well, actually, the whole ulpan was such a neat throwback to a much earlier time in life, namely, a time when a sharp pencil and a clean eraser really made my day!).

Amidst the reading selections with comprehension questions, grammar questions, and a long essay was a short essay: "Friends are coming to Israel to visit.  Tell them about a special place you want to make sure they will visit".  My answer:

"Dear Deb and Frank,

I am so happy that you are coming back to Israel!  We had such fun with you in November!  When you visit, we should go to the Golan.  The mountains there are very beautiful and we can also visit with Gil and Nitsan.  It will be very interesting!


Ellen"  Is that an A+ mini-essay or what?!

My class got together today at a local restaurant.  It was so sweet and nice to do.
I'm on the back left and our wonderful teacher is 3rd from the front on the right side

 I will really miss the makeup of this particular class (thankfully, many/most of us will be continuing on together).  I am sad that my buddy Yosef is not continuing on.  Yosef is in his 70s and has a sharp sense of humor (I have often thought, as he made some wisecrack, that he is very similar to what my father would be like if he ended up in such a class).  I admire Yosef, both for making aliyah at this time of life and for sticking with class (Yosef's wife was in class for the first month, as was another older woman, but they both found it too much and left class....When our buddy David got a job, it looked like Yosef was going to be the only male in class!  Thankfully, Moshe, another retired man, then joined class so Yosef wasn't the only guy).  But Yosef says he's done with ulpan: he stuck with class until the end and now there's a gemara with his name on it, and who can argue with that reasoning?!

We got to know each other pretty well during the semester (which is really saying something considering there were six Russian speakers so our mutually-poor level of Hebrew was our only way of communicating).

My favorite story from class: "N", from Ukraine, came to Israel for a vacation.  While at the Kotel, she asked someone to take a picture of her.  Turned out she had asked a man who also spoke Russian and he took the picture, they had a brief chat about where each was from and that was it.  She went back to the Ukraine and, meanwhile, this guy spent the next two months trying to track her down online.  He finally succeeded, they got to know each other online (you can see where this is going, right?!), she came back to Israel to visit him....he went to Ukraine to visit her.....And then they got married ;).  While filling out paperwork for her to come to Israel, she had to write her parents' names.  Let's say "Boris and Natasha".  And her grandparents' names.  Her father's parents were Uri and Olga.  And her mother's parents: David and Rebecca.
"Wait" said the representative from Israel: "David and Rebecca? Are you Jewish?"
"Me?! No" said N.
"Well, go ask your mother" the representative said.
"Mother, are we Jewish?"
"Noooo" said N's mother
"Ask your grandmother" said the representative
"Grandmother, are we Jewish?"

Me: "WHOA!  What was that like to find out you were Jewish???"
N: "Shock.  Total shock" (the rest of the conversation was in Hebrew, but that phrase was English)


Anyway, back to ulpan (but a higher level) on Monday ;)

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