Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Life’s deepest mysteries

Ah, summer vacation.

A time for introspection, reflection, and contemplation.

A time to ponder some of life’s deepest mysteries – most of which pertain to being the Anglo parent of Israeli offspring.

For instance, consider these unfathomable enigmas:

1) Even Niyar U’Misparayim” (literally, “Rock, Paper, and Scissors”) is the Hebrew equivalent of, well, “Rock, Paper, Scissors.” (Sorry, but no word on how to say, “lizard, Spock”… :-))

But here’s the strange part.

You see, traditionally, the game begins with a sing-song recitation of the following:

.אבן נייר ומספרים
.המנצח בין השנים
.אחת, שתים, שלוש

Translation: Rock, paper, and scissors./ The winner of the two./ One, two, three. (No, it doesn’t sound any better in the original…)

Which is - needless to say - long, cumbersome, and unwieldy.

And thus, ever resourceful, Israeli kids came up with a shortened version:

.אבן ג’וק

Yes, the literal translation of “even juk" IS “rock cockroach,” and no, I have absolutely no idea what’s the kesher. (Loose translation for the Heblish-impaired: What do cockroaches have to do with anything?)

In fact, I even tried turning to the experts - i.e. a couple of the Shiputzim kids – for help.

However, they simply shrugged and said that they “don’t know but it’s just a kitzur (abbreviation).”

Which, IMNSHO, was less of an explanation and more of a restatement of the question, but in a situation like this, one takes what one can get…

2) As if the whole jukim-as-shorthand thing is not perplexing enough, it turns out that the world the country the adolescent segment of the population is divided into two groups:

  • Those who run on over to Misrad HaPnim (the Interior Ministry) on the very day that they turn 16, in order to receive their teudot zehut (identity cards).
  • Those who don’t get around to taking care of this uniquely-Israeli rite of passage until their tzav rishon (army induction paper) arrives and/or until their parents nag them enough and finally force them out the door…

Laughing out loud

Do YOU know the answer to either of these baffling riddles of Israeli life?


  1. My kids now have kids of their own playing this game but they used to say אבן, נייר ומספרים which came out in a one word abbreviation: evenyahoo
    ;o) Thanks for the nostalgia!

  2. Had a good laugh, our youngest was DEFINITELY in the second category of the teudat zehut getters-I think he went two days before his tzav rishon.

  3. I guess ours fits into the first category as he could not wait to get his TZ and be legally allowed to earn money....
    awaiting the tzav rishon....


  4. Risa - Haha! The first time I heard it, I asked the kids, "Yahoo? What does that mean?" :-)

    Malke - When one of the Shiputzim sons went to Misrad HaPnim, he asked a friend if he wanted to go too, but the friend said no. He had just turned 16, and it would be TOTALLY uncool to go so soon after his birthday... :-)

    RCT - His cousin was just the opposite... :-)

  5. I can top you in the TZ department! My son needed a new passport, and the clerk offered to get him his teudat zehut even though he hasn't received a letter and won't turn 16 for a couple of weeks.

  6. MiI - Wow! I'm very impressed... :-)


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