24 – My Heart is Dancing in Jerusalem
My Heart is Dancing in Jerusalem 4 minutes of smiles
DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME: One amazing friend said she appreciates the videos I include, so here is more of what I find young people doing at the park near my home.
Along with the other projects for Hebrew immersion, I’ve been meeting with several elderly neighbors. One fought in Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, and reminds me of my dad. He is a little past the age my dad would be now. We play rummy and rummy-like board games from his collection, a game I played with my dad. The joke – based gently on reality – is that since his hearing is nonfunctional and I can’t talk (very well), it’s kind of like a marriage J hah!
The little things:
- Hebrew is read and written right to left, while numbers are written from left to right. For addresses, the numbers follow, rather than precede the street name, and it’s just a little crazy-making at first to write the street name right to left, and the numbers left to right.Some Israeli’s feel compelled to “right” them, so I have a new habit established, and am sequencing them right to left. Why does it matter, you ask? The non-Israel way seems to “feel” backwards to others – I suppose the same sense we all have when others do or say the subtle things that show they’re “not from these parts”. It’s a minor thing, but took effort to build the new habit. It is a good reminder to me of all the subtle changes that extract energy throughout my days.
- So, what would you expect is “the” way to sequence playing cards? Right to left, since that’s how you read? Or left to right, since that’s the order for telephone numbers, identification numbers, etc.?
- Taking that a step farther: I’m still sometimes turning books and pamphlets around and over everywhichway to find the beginning. Hebrew begins from the “back” (English reader’s perspective). Yes, I know it’s simple and at a glance it should be obvious whether Hebrew or English, but habits are hard to break. I imagine it’s funny to watch me not know which end of the book is up for a few seconds. From the inside, it’s mostly funny, but also embarrassing. I didn’t realize how important to me it is to feel and look “smart”.
- Drivers’ License: my U.S. license enables me to drive until November 19th, so I’ve initiated the process of obtaining an Israeli license. Thus far it has entailed:
- Eye exam and predictably BAD photo taken in an Optometrist office in the Jerusalem Mall.
- Soliciting my neighbor’s help reading the questions in Hebrew about emotional and medical history pertinent to my potential safety on the road, since I dared not risk mis-reading and answering wrong with only yes/no options. And yes, I understand some of you could offer perspective about my emotional health… but I’d really like to be able to rent a car if need be, so please keep your insights to yourself J
- Visit to MD to obtain his signature that I’m “healthy” enough to drive, although he has never listened to my heart or touched (ie, examined) me in any way. Again, please no comments J
- 4 trips to the government office to finally get the paperwork filed properly
- Soliciting names of “good” driving instructors from my language school buddies for my mandatory lesson(s). Yes, I have to take a driving lesson, or as many as the instructor deems appropriate, even though I’ve been driving since my 16th birthday in California, Colorado and New York. I’m told that landing on the wrong instructor can result in multiple lessons, if the instructor needs extra income. Assuming I pass the lesson, driving HIS car, he will take me for the exam, with which he participates in some manner… tune in next time for the sequel.
And a Not-so-little thing during these months of deadly violence.
I look into faces… in tourist areas, walking my neighborhood, the mall, side-street shortcuts, etc. Palestinians of all ages and genders, dressed in traditional or secular garb, are attacking Jews. Where is her hand? Is that boy big enough to kill a stranger? Why are they walking towards me? If I step away from the nearness of her, will I hurt her feelings, or attract attention as fearful? Am I being cautious enough or should I redirect my course? How can I follow my instincts when anyone not obviously Jewish could be a danger. Should I carry the pepper spray I bought? What good is it in my purse if I need it?
I’ve used the pepper spray once.
I bought it from a sort-of army-surplus store, opting for the product the shopkeeper told me “everyone is buying”. Since then it’s been sometimes in my jacket pocket, other times in my purse. Several days ago, after too many minutes of sudden, all-consuming burning of my eyes and nose and futile attempts at washing away the burn, I discovered an orange-colored stain on the handkerchief I had just used. I keep it in my purse. The pepper spray had leaked. Sigh
Since the shopkeeper assured me it would not leak in my purse, the next couple of days will include another visit to the store to have a very direct conversation.
Are you aware Israeli Arabs have important positions in the Government, Supreme Court, and media? This Israeli Arab newswoman’s voices her opinions about the current (and past) terrorism http://www.timesofisrael.com/clip-of-israeli-arab-anchor-slamming-muslim-leadership-goes-viral/?utm_source=The+Times+of+Israel+Daily+Edition&utm_campaign=c395bb6dce-2015_10_24&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_adb46cec92-c395bb6dce-54862605
A friend offered to spend some time with me on self-defense techniques. Since the last class I took was a Rape Defense class from the Colorado Springs PD in 2000, a refresher sounded like a good idea. He knows his stuff, but . . . silly me . . . I was afraid of getting thrown to the floor like I’ve seen in self-defense moves. Hmmm. Afraid of being attacked with a serious knife, or afraid of learning the best responses from a certified instructor, so people DON’T get hurt.…. Yes, of course I took him up on his offer, and it was great. We’ll practice again, and I’ll learn more. A formal course is now on the list of things I want to do.
Please don’t be naïve. It’s not likely you hear the whole story from U.S. mainline media. They have a bias or they would tell you the truth. This is a great example! http://www.i24news.tv/en/opinion/83926-150830-a-picture-worth-a-thousand-shares?utm_source=SIM&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Newsletter_20150903_en&utm_content=&utm_term
Hebrew language learning update no, let’s call it: Thoughts about learning and success and failure: When I was learning ballroom dancing, new steps were reviewed several times for each partner to practice his/her parts, but it was later in the evening during the “real” dancing, that the new steps transitioned from mere mechanics to dance. The parallel to language learning, or most any new skill, is obvious.
Just as I’ll always be grateful to the dancers who endured my learning curve, I appreciate each Israeli with – here’s that dreaded word again: patience – סבלנות “sav-la-newt” – to endure my ever improving, uneven and bumpy Hebrew. I imagine they feel seasick listening to me. Each conversation is precious and each experience locks words in at a deeper level.
Successful teaching strategies typically target 70-80% student accuracy. This allows enough success to build the skill, while the other 20-30% stretches the student towards mastery of new skills. Practically, I’m progressing, but it FEELS like I’m falling backwards because the ever-present errors process within me as “failure”, although I certainly don’t think of successes as “perfect”. Hmmmm. I admit it: I hate that 20-30% even though I know how much more I learn from my errors than my successes. You too?
I found a sweeter-than-sweet greeting on my door when I returned from my August trip to Berlin and the U.S. It was posted by my neighbor – can you tell the English is not native speaker?
A few notes-to-self during the Berlin visit:
- The Berlin Wall was taken down and the city unified during my lifetime, but I was not tuned-in to it, so learned about Berliners’ pride, joy, and relief in 1989’s “reunification”. Photographs and history demonstrated West vs East, and differentiated the ideologies: West Berlin’s full shelves, color, and hope in stark contrast to Communism’s empty shelves, gray, and hopelessness.
- George Mainzer’s story from Berlin’s Holocaust Museum rings in my heart. This German Jew had been a community leader and successful businessman, and from generations of the same. The museum’s photographs and narrative show how the Nazi’s humiliated him and others in the early implementation of laws restricting Jewish life. Finally, he was forced to leave. One man’s story, otherwise an unknown of history, moves me to wonder about his family and life – what was saved and what was lost? Somehow, he is one of millions. Each with a story of love and loss. I wonder: how did George Mainzer respond to being forced from his lifestyle, dreams, home, city, homeland. He couldn’t have had an inclination of avoiding death camps, or could he? How long did he grieve the loss and abuse? Did he ever discuss the impact of losing the social and financial status with grandchildren? Did he give God credit for saving him? Or curse Him for allowing it?
- Shabbat…Shalom: profound moment of silence while walking in Berlin’s Tiergarten. Stunning. This silence is everywhere, waiting for me to heed it rather than the noise. Anywhere. שקת the silence of my too-often-noisy soul. No questions or dialogue or reflections. Silence. Precious. God often speaks when my heart quiets.
- Decisions Matrix: Ultimately our action is what matters, but how should I proceed? Which choice? At the same time, my motivations are crucial to the decision process. Am I being honest with myself. Oh God, show me what’s really in my heart. Still, good motives don’t bring gold from dirt. Dirt is dirt, right? So back to: it’s the decision that matters. Hindsight is a wonderful teacher, but I remind myself that I will never get the decision process perfect in this lifetime. I don’t know what I missed. Yes, I absolutely pray for wisdom, weigh the costs, seek wise advisors, and consider my options and motivations. Still I’ll never know whether choosing another option would have been better or worse, so I will thank God for this day, and choose peace.
Ever struggling to understand words spoken to, or around me, I’m appreciating being known and understood more than ever.
One afternoon at the park near my home, I spied a Grandfather pushing a stroller, I kept a distance to follow him and watched as he repeatedly squatted to look all around from the perspective of the baby.
May I be the friend who does that! To feel with you your joys and fears and hopes and regrets… The gift of being understood is precious. Thank you for being on this journey with me.
Write and tell me what you want to be known, what matters.