In Israel, it’s a good idea to get out of the house as least as often as we hold national elections. An opportunity to do so arose for my wife Marcia recently between outbreaks of COVID variants, and she went shopping with a friend. I won’t pretend to understand all of what “shopping,” in its deepest sense, may mean to women, but I know the activity always boosts Marcia’s spirits as well as strengthens the Israeli shekel. Early in the process of her latest mercantile adventure, Marcia ran into one of our former Ulpan teachers.
Ulpan (אולפן), for those who may be unfamiliar with the term, is the word Israelis use for language school. A visit to Google Translate will suggest that Ulpan means “studio.” Deeper within Google’s algorithm, the translation “instruction” emerges. But neither is correct. Studio is to Ulpan in Israel like waiting room is to crime scene. Equating Israeli Ulpanim to mere places of instruction, though a bit more accurate, also misses the mark. Normal students absorb instruction but, since a typical tour of Ulpan duty might last five months, five days each week, five-and-a-half hours each day, Ulpan students endure it.
Marcia liked Ulpan. She attended twice. Perhaps I’m bitter.[Read more…]
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