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September 5, 2003     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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September 5, 2003

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PAGE 12 HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, SEPTEMBER 5, photo by Javier Waissbluth/JTA Jonathan Udren, left, and David Zoldan, second from left, study Hebrew with Ray Schlomo Eitan in a Jerusalem yeshiva. By Jonathan Udren I shouldn't feel so embar- rassed, considering that two JERUSALEM (JTA)--It's years ago I didn't even know hard feeling like an outsider how to put an aleph next to a in your new home country, bet, much less speak or un- For the last month, every derstand Hebrew. And I'm new person I call on the planning to enroll in a state- phone, every clerk I meet at sponsoredulpan, or intensive anoffice, gets the same greet- Hebrew-language lab, in ing from me: "Medaber January. Anglit?" But I realized quickly after That's Hebrew for, "Do you arriving here the importance speak English?" of brushing up on my Hebrew At least I know how to say right away. that in Hebrew and how to Only a week after making conjugate the question prop- aliyah, my first piece of He- erly for a man or a woman, brew mail arrived. But it's embarrassing to feel What an amazing feeling like an outsider in a place that to see"Yonatan Chaim Udren" spiritually feels so much like spelled out in Hebrew letters home. on that envelope. I ripped it Whether I'm at the bank openandglanceditover, only trying to open a credit card to realize that I had no idea account, or at the motor ve- what the document meant. hicle bureau trying to take a There were numbers at the picture for my new driver's bottom, and a box next to it license, everything has to be that I translated as, "You re- in English. ceive 400 shekel." I thought: "I've only been care of the ticket, I thought, "I heard on the radio this Abomb had gone here a week and already I'm howwouldtheparkingpolice morning that Hezbollah on No. 2 bus in Jerusalem being awarded some kind of ever find me? the northern border hasway from the Western extra aliyah bonus." Less than a week after I 11,000 missiles aimed at Is- Twenty-one people had Then I looked at the letter made aliyah, that ticket rael-- 11,000," he said."It's killed and more than again and realized there was landed in my mailbox. I'm still impossible with that many jured, including many another column with a date trying to figure out the whole missiles that no one would dren. 90 days hence and a 625- thing, but I'm hoping-- per- get injured." After a tormented shekel figure in the adjacent haps alittle naively--thatall The words for "missiles" sleep, Eitan greeted us box. Israeli bureaucracy works as and"injured"werenewtome, morningw Was this some kind of sav- efficiently as the parking- but I quickly realized that His slow, thoughtful ings bond? Why would wait- ticket authorities, these words were, as Eitan seared my heart with ing 90 more days allow me to After the incident with the explained, part of "Survival receive more money? parking ticket, I decided to Hebrew 101." tragedyina When I saw the Hebrew use the summer to brush up "They anticipated the ter- let the pain sink in word"knas"it dawned on me: on my Hebrew. So I enrolled roristattack.Sayit, Yonatan," new emotional angle. It was a bill. in a special two-week course Eitan commanded me. I "I heard that there Or, more accurately, afine, at a Jerusalem yeshiva,fumbled with the word for least 20 in serious The nicely detailed carica- Sitting in class waiting for anticipateandcouldn'tgetthe and 20 more in extremelY~ ture of a smiling policeman the teacher to walk in, I real- sentence out straight, rious condition," Eitan writing out a parking ticket ized that our class of 12 stu- "Gong,'Eitansangout, us- "I don't know what onthebackofthelettermade dentsrepresentedallfourcor- ing his signature intimida- means. Maybe that they the situation a little clearer, ners of the globe, tion tactic. It worked the first an arm or a leg." The funny thing is that I Michael, a man in his 50s, few times: I felt intimated. The mornin lesson don't even have a car. was a math professor from But after a few gongs I real- tinuedwitha The fine was dated all the Russia. Gideon, aformercom- ized hewas only pushing me words: explosion, bomb, way back to last December, modities trader from South to burn the words into my rorist, critical condition. and after a moment I realized Africa, recentlyhadjoinedthe memory. I swallowed the pain iN its source, rest of his family in Israel. His methodology worked,heart and kept writing A few friends and I hadDavid was a medical stu- Fearing further gonging, my and asking questions. I rentedacarduringChanukah dentfromlrelandtakingayear classmate JoshandI satwith knowwhate for some hiking in the Negev off to study in yeshiva. Chaim ourword lists that night, con- Eitan's lead and keep Desert. While Iwas finishing from Chile had just gotten jugating and quizzing each I amrealizin the paperwork, the attendant married, and he and his new other. Hebrew is not just parked the rental vehicle in wifewere spending their first "OK. Say, 'The settlersguage, but~ an illegal space. When I year together in Jerusalem. manage local radio stations,' to integrate and manage walked out to the car, a po- I snapped back to attention " I said, trying to combine a intense reality here. licemanwas huddled over the when our teacher, Ray Eitan, few new words from our list. Readin license plate. A moment later, walked into the room. Dressed Josh answered me, then and listening he slapped a ticket on the in the black and white garb gavemeasentenceofhisownof sobbing, bereaved windshield, that is standard attire for the to formulate. "The truck members seems "Oh, don'tworry, we'll take fervently Orthodox, Eitansur- crashed, and many were in- a part of living care of that," said the atten- prised uswith his sharp sense jured." day=evening strolls dant as she snatched the ticket of humor and gentle smile, The peace and quiet that the Western Wall Plaza. from my hand, tossingin into all the while using militant evening suddenly was shat- Life in Israel what I thought was the trash commands and a sergeant- tered by the sounds of ambu- to be torn between hoPe can. like voice to keep us focused, lances tearing through the pain. I shrugged it offand headed He began each day by talk- streets. We didn't pay them the pain for the desert. Even if the ing in simple Hebrew about much attention until weis a part of learning the rental company didn't take that morning's news. heard the news. guage. ~ i