About Me

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I moved from dank, dark North Manchester, U.K. to Karmiel, Western Galilee, Israel in March 2010. It is, believe me, one of the sunniest, loveliest towns on earth. With a background in local Jewish journalism I continue to write freelance. I manage several blogs, have  appeared on Technorati and Blogcritics and now contribute to the online magazine, 'Live Encounters'. My main blog is Alwayswriteagain (http://wwwalwayswriteagain.blogspot.com

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Hebrew Is a Difficult - Frightening - Edible Language!

Barely two days into my new ulpan (Hebrew) course here in Karmiel and I have a waking dream that forces me bolt-upright in bed.

Sitting on the pillow are  Peh, his sister, Feh and their big brother, Sofit Feh  - a gang of vicious characters who must be avoided at all costs.

It must be time to challenge Etgar Keret to pen his next short story without using any of  them - even once. 

Only a fantasist like the famed Israeli writer - who works when he doesn’t "want to go out and doesn’t want to stay at home" - could achieve this. 

But the Pehs are good at disguise. Even Keret may be bamboozled.

On the one hand,  Peh is the first letter of the  'piyyutim' - פיוטים - sacred poetry - but on the other, when written  in cursive script may easily pass off as a Danish pastry.

The truth must be told: The Pehs are out-and-out Fascists who began life as German steel helmets. See the evidence for yourself. 

Of course, I'm beginning to write this after a day in the sun on Yom Ha'atzmaut - Israel's Independence Day - so  I'll simply ask whether our microcosm of Israel's  'Rainbow Nation' is  in anyway  comparable to Leo Rosten's hysterically funny stories about

Is our teacher, Smadar Bir, an Israeli version of the fictional and long-suffering "Mr Parkhill", who teaches English and US citizenship to Kaplan and other immigrants at a nightclass in New York? 

Certainly, with her dinky colour co-ordinated hats and engaging giggle she must be a "Bir" who refreshes the student-parts others can't!  But the similarities between her and Parkhill are slight.  For a start she is real while it is said that "Mr Pockheel" was Rosten's alter ego.

And me? I've not been so desperate to be teacher's pet since 1950-plod when I was besotted with Miss Aviva Brookes who taught the nursery class at the cheder (Jewish religion classes) run by Birmingham Hebrew Congregation, Singer's Hill.

Imagine my desolation when one week she did not appear. Later - much later - I learned that she had had the effrontery  to get married. Moreover, far from inviting me to the nuptials she had not had the decency to inform me of her pending departure.

I wonder where she is now. Or indeed Miss Ingram, her counterpart at George Dixon's Primary School, who confused me entirely by wearing her cardigan buttoned at the back and returned after the school summer holiday re-named Mrs Jones. Feh! I'm still confounded by such betrayal. So I'm off to do my Hebrew homework  where I may find a juicy red apple for my new teacher.

More from me in Karmiel anon.


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