Wednesday, March 18, 2009

You say “chavRUsah”; I say “chavruTAH”…

Does this sound familiar?

You bump into someone whom you knew way back before they made aliyah. And although you can personally attest to the fact that they used to say things like “shul,” “Shabbos,” “shalosheudes,” and “yontif” – now they’re suddenly talking about “beit knesset,” “Shabbat,” “seudah shlishit,” and “chag”.

You wonder if they have any idea how forced and artificial they sound, and you’re very tempted to make a snarky comment. (“Well, look at you! You’ve been in Israel, what? Like five minutes? And you’ve already turned into a complete and utter phony? Niiiice…”)

But then one day, you make aliyah yourself.

And a decade or so later, you find yourself referring to a “brit which you attended and even wishing a warm “maZAL tov to the “chaTAN” and the “kaLLAH” at a recent wedding.

And now you wonder if you sound forced and artificial…


Your thoughts?


  1. Here in HP we have the Shabbat Shalom crowd and the gut Shabbes crowd. I had the Bostoner Rebbe's grandson wish me a Freiliche Purim last week, cuz he lives down the block! Down the block from little ole me! I said Happy Purim back, because I've never wished anyone a Freiliche Purim before.

    I sound fake when I try to talk Yeshivish.

  2. Leora - It's wonderful that you live in a place where the different crowds get along. It reminds me of our old community in the States...

  3. Interesting post Mrs.S. In France very few people use Yiddish in such expresssions nowadays. We all speak more or less Sephardic Hebrew with a few French variations. For instance people say syna for shul (I prefer shul) never beit knesset.

  4. I remember when we first made aliyah I would use words Yiddish words like milchig/fleishik or even lukshon kugel, and I found my Israeli neighbors didnt know what I was talking about. I had thought that every frum jew used those words.


  5. I find myself actually at a complete loss in this regard.
    Having first lived here in Israel in a native Israeli area, I quickly switched to "Shabbat Shalom" and the like, for the alternate being labelled as an American who just wouldn't let go. However, after getting married and going to visit a high Haredi percentage area (in-laws) quite a bit, where the norm is "Gut Shabbos", I found myself switching back to my origins. In addition, now that I am living in a community with a high Anglo percentage, one needs to keep track of how long the recipient has been here in Israel, as to not sound phony to them.
    So as you can see, as I need to keep track of so many variables it has become a nightmare.
    I am just all confused and due to this very likely being called a phony everywhere, as I am probably mixing up what I should say to who, and where.

  6. Ilana-Davita - Thanks. When I'm speaking Hebrew, I have no problem using words like beit knesset and Shabbat. I only feel awkward when I'm speaking English. (There are a number of French Jews here in our neighborhood. I wonder if their linguistic experiences are similar to mine...)

    RCT - I had the opposite problem. Not too long after we made aliyah, I wanted to use the word parve but didn't know how to say it "in Hebrew"...

  7. Be All You Can Be - LOL!! Great comment!
    P.S. Welcome back. We missed you here on the blog!

  8. The WORST is when you accidentally insert a "t" when the word calls for "s," usually because you come from an Ashkenazis background like me and are trying to overcompensate (v'hu niTi u'manoT li, minat koTi b'yom ekra). It has been known to happen.

    Also, the Israeli ear does not take well to mil'el when they expect a mil'ra. When I give shiur in Hebrew and I say AVraham instead of AvraHAM, I get flack. Good natured, of course.

  9. Tamar -
    v'hu niTi u'manoT li, minat koTi b'yom ekra

    That reminds me of some of my high school classmates, who wanted to show how frum they were. Our elementary school was Ivrit B'Ivrit, and so we all learned to read in Sepharadit. But as they got older, some girls started to put S's all over the place... even where they didn't belong! (Sorah tzivah lanu Moshe...)


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