Sunday, September 7, 2008

"Ma shlomeich?" "Ruti!" "[sigh] I know you. How are you feeling?"

Yom rishon, 7 Elul 5768/7 September 2008, Sunday.

I have finally learned just enough Hebrew to be somewhat competent dangerous.

We were making a welcome party for a wonderful boy from Baltimore who will be living with us through the school year, coupled with a farewell party for Yeshiva Bochur, who had to go back to the States. We wanted to "mix it up" a bit, by inviting friends of ours who are bilingual, as well as our dear landlords, who are trying to learn English (as they patiently try to help us learn Hebrew). Lest you think I was making a party without considering the teenagers involved, I will say that both invited families have teens; and the Boarder's father was here, and is friendly with both families. It seemed like a perfect blending. Everyone would have somebody with whom he could converse easily.

My landlady said many words to me about this party. I am at the stage of my development where I get a little embarrassed to make them repeat every sentence several times... and, besides, I understand at least every fifth word! So, there I am, nodding away, and saying, "Todah!" as she offers to do something for the party, which I assume is to prepare a few things. (She's a great cook. Who could refuse?!) So, we have this "understanding," she and I; and I look forward eagerly to my effort to be multicultural.

The night of the party arrives. The Boarder and his brother and father are here. The multilinguals arrive in a timely manner. The party is moving along nicely. But where are my landlords? Since they live in the house connected with our apartment, after they are a half-hour late, I decide to go and find them. As I reach the top of the steps, and prepare to say something like, "Mah pitom? Are we so far away that you got lost?" with a big smile on my face (the internationally-recognized "just joking" signal)... my landlady comes out her front door, ready to come to me to ask, "Mah pitom? Are we so far away you got lost?"

Turns out that what the landlady had offered was to make the party at her house, as she has more room. (Apparently, that little detail was in one of the words between every fifth word... so I didn't quite get it.) She has been waiting for us to appear at her door... and wondering if extreme lateness is some sort of custom in America.

Baruch Hashem, she really is The Landlady Min HaShomayim. We assessed the situation. She had cleaned her house for the party. ("Don't worry. Now I'm ready early for Shabbat!") She had prepared a few lovely dishes (which put to shame my store-bought chumus. Really: make friends with native Israelis. They make fresh chumus, techina, chatzilim... MMMMM!!!). We decided that since they have no A/C either, and our party was happening outdoors in the lovely Neve Daniel evening breeze, she would bring her tasty dishes to me. We also both learned that little details like "basari o chalavi" (are we having meat or milk?) are really important to work out ahead of time. With very little trouble, and lots of savlanut, we made an amazing party.
Thank G-d for patient friends and neighbors! We may just make it here...
Post a Comment