Now that we’ve arrived, gotten our papers, set up a bank account and shopped a bit, it’s become painfully clear; we need to learn the language. And we are powerfully motivated. Imagine being able to shout and argue with everyone about everything, just like the natives. In the process of our “absorption” (there is a Government Ministry here for that) we’ll soon begin formal Hebrew lessons, “Ulpan,” a school for the intensive study of Hebrew, but our education has already begun.
We’ve already learned three new words. Inexpertly transliterated they are shneeah, balagan, and sababa.
We learned “Shneeah!” from Elvira, a service rep at the bank branch in Rechavia near where we’ll be living. The Hebrew word for second transliterates to shenee, thus shneeah means, roughly, “Just a second,” and that’s what Elvira shot back when I tried to get her attention.
She made a joke. Nothing here happens in a second.
Some examples; we spent nearly 3 1/2 hours waiting to buy cell phones; it took two plus hours at the Ministry of Interior to get ID cards; the “fast track” through customs and immigration at the airport in Tel Aviv took well over an hour; and we’ve had several lengthy sessions at the bank. But t’s not entirely the natives fault that things take so long to happen here. Yes, things could be more efficient but we haven’t been much help. We know just enough Hebrew to establish our ignorance. While everyone in Jerusalem seems to speak at least some English, our being better at Hebrew would help.
It was also at the bank where we learned the slang word, balagan. “You must know this word to live in Israel,” Elvira told us during a dark time in the account opening process. “It means everything is messed up.”
We like Elvira, she’s fun.
But our favorite word of the three, also slang, is sababa. “I will teach you a word that the natives know and people will be impressed,” Yehiel, our helper at the CellCom store, told us. “It is sababa,” he said. “You say it and it means everything is okay. People like to hear it.” [Note, April 16: Our landlord, Merriam, a wonderful person who has been of great help to us in settling in, does not like this word: “It’s for young people.” So that eliminates us.]
Early afternoon on our first full day here, we had walked about a mile in town with faith in hazy directions and finally found the store tucked away in the corner of an indoor mall. We drew a ticket that implied we were behind over 40 other people. The small showroom was packed shoulder to shoulder. After 30 minutes we were able to find chairs. After nearly two hours our number came up. (Shneeah!) Then everything went balagan. The processed required we each sign a ten-page contract printed entirely in minuscule Hebrew letters. Since we had only American credit cards at the time, the CellCom folks were not so sure they wanted us as customers. A profound international credit check followed. “It will be just a minute,” Yehiel told us. Then ten minutes, then twenty.
By the time we had finished the phone store had closed. It was well past dark. The mall was empty and the lights in the main hall had been dimmed. A guard had pulled the storefront gate halfway down. Marcia and I were the last ones standing when Yehiel was finally able to hand us our SIMM cards and wish us well. “So, good?” he asked.
We smiled at him, too exhausted to complain, and answered, “Sababa.”
“Ah! Sababa,” the guard said, thumbs up as we walked past.
Just as Yehiel had predicted, he was impressed.
Tuesday, April 12: We ate lunch today at a bagel shop on the Ben Yehuda Mall. The wind was blowing hard but it didn’t seem to bother anyone on the street. It’s spring here of course but today it seemed like late fall; like snow might be coming. This little shop has a good-sized dining area upstairs, warm, with seats beside windows facing the street. We took our time eating and looked around. Inside and out were Jews from America, France, Russia, everywhere; visitors (Passover is coming) and residents, Orthodox, conservative, non-observant, all walking, shopping, chatting.
The place is easily within walking distance of the Old City. Almost 600 years ago King Nebuchadnezzar’s troops set up siege works around Jerusalem (how far from where we ate our meal?) and in 586 BC broke through the city walls, destroyed the first temple and effectively ended Israel’s existence as a nation until just recently.
Seems likely that none of the Babylonian soldiers involved in that thorough destruction could have possibly anticipated a reconstituted Jewish nation.
From Chapter 30 of Jeremiah: For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds…and the city shall be builded upon her own heap. And out of them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of them that make merry…and I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small…in the latter days ye shall consider it.
Here’s another video:
Carol Vass says
Celebrating First Fruits tonight..looking forward to it. Blessings to both of you.
Tamara and Dale says
Hey, sent you an email. Just now joining blog. Love the new words. We hear you are in your new home getting my room ready. lol. We missed you at passover this year as everyone else did. Dale has recovered very well form sinus surgery. Not looking forward to another surgery quite so soon but maybe Abba is taking care of everything before our next assignment. Just trusting. Love and miss you guys. Love the videos- I feel like your right here. will look forward to the other blogs as you have time. Praying for you always.
Tammy and Dale
Carol Vass says
Hi Cliff & Marcia,
Thanks for posting. It is great hearing from you.
Penny seems to have adapted to her new surrounding’s, how about you two??
Love the Hebrew lessons. Make a list as you learn, and share, so I will know Hebrew
when I come over.
I really missed you guy’s at Passover Tuesday. I pray that yours went well. G_d has placed you on my heart several times, to lift you up in prayer.
I am really looking forward to see how Adonai will use you in Jerusalem.
Take care and G_od”s blessings on the three of you..Love You & Miss You
Carol & Ben
Terry Pollock says
Hi Cliff and Marcia,
I find myself thinking about you at odd times in my day, wondering how things are going and blown away by the huge commitment you have made. This seems strange since I haven’t seen you in years Cliff, and haven’t even met you, Marcia! Somehow when I heard in a purely accidental (?) way about what you are doing, it touched me somewhere way down deep and I can’t help but think that it means more than it seems on the surface. What does your move to Israel mean for me? There is something there for me to yet understand, but I’m waiting for it to come to me! In the meantime, I look forward to your messages and pictures and keep you in my prayers. Give PennE a pat for me.
It’s not coincidence and not your imagination, I’m sure.
Mack & Althea says
Great seeing all 3 of you. I told Mack I was going to put a picture of Cliff in his chair so when He looked out while chanting, he would see the smile he misses so much. Glad you are fitting in so well. G_d bless you both.
Much love and shalom,
Mack and Althea
Don’t do that to Mack–he has enough to do without distractions. 🙂
Dellanie Austin says
I’m sorry I forgot to ask, kitty-cats are my favorite animals and do they have owners?
Ya know like a place to live?
Some have owners, some don’t. The ones with owners are usually clean and fat.
Dellanie Austin says
Toda so much for sharing! Glad everything is Sababa! The market was great. What lovely fruit and beggis! I don’t know if we can ask questions but how much is the American dollar worth to Israel money. It is so lovely there. Thank you for the Hebrew lessens. You are so funny I love your sense of humor. It seems so peaceful there. Its as if I can feel The Lord with yall. I was wondering maybe is there a way I can put my pic on here so you and Marcia will remember who I am? lol Again Toda Robah for sharing! My the Lord continue to bless you getting acquainted with HIS land!
Gerry Maddox says
Thanks for the video. Love seeing you both and Penny. Glad to know you are doing well. Thanks for the Hebrew lesson, look forward to the next one. You will have us all speaking Hebrew like a Sabra. Love you both, Gerry and Bobby
Glad to hear you all are sababa!
I look forward to more blogs, videos and updates in the near future. I think you should teach us all one new hebrew word a week. God Bless!
It’s great hearing the news from y’all. It has to be exciting and over whelming also. The weather has been great here with a few showers in the last few weeks. We miss you guys and know that things will improve over the next few months. It want be long till you and Marsha will look like locals. Love Woody and Emma
Babs Alvarez says
Marcia and Cliff,
I started to leave a reply and then I lost it somewhere, so if I’m repeating myself, please forgive and consider the source!
I love your blog and being able to read of what’s happening with you and see pictures of all of you (Pen-ey is a trooper!) and your new home and surroundings! Fantastic! I wrote down the 3 new Hebrew words and was going to share my newfound language skills with my student from Israel, but he was not in class today~ more time to practice ~ I’ll let you know if he is impressed and gives me the “sababa” in return.
“…and you shall be gathered, one by one, people of Isra’el.” (27:12) and about 130 years later Jeremiah added “So don’t be afraid…for I will return you from far away and your offspring from their country of exile…For I am with you to save you.” (30:10,11)
I see that you have looked to the source of wisdom to speak to your heart as well as your mind; in all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will make your way straight.
Thanks for staying in touch!
My thoughts and prayers go with you and for you~
Gil Gerretsen says
Thanks for sharing your updates. Enjoying your updates. The guys say hello.
barbara lewis says
enjoy the updates. loved the market! i’ve always wanted to shop at an open air market. one day……..
thanks for the entertainment. loved the piece on the 3 hebrew words. now we are also educated!
it is also nice to see you both doing so well.
will keep you in our thoughts and prayers!
thanks for sharing……..
take care 🙂