Monday, December 21, 2009

Do You Know That We Read The Same Books?

Shalom Yeladim:
“Mah Korei”? That’s the Hebrew saying for “What’s Going On?” If you separate the words and translate each, the word “Mah” means “what” and the word “Korei” has two meanings: “happening” and “reading”. It just so happens that the books we all read are exactly what I want to talk to you about today. I bet you didn’t realize that even though we live oceans apart we still read many of the same books, or have the same books read to us. Take a look at the examples I’ve found. There’s The Cat in the Hat; and The Giving Tree; and Once Upon a Potty. So now I have a question for you: If all three of these books can be read in English AND in Hebrew, which one do you think was originally written in Hebrew and first printed in Israel? I’m going to give you five seconds to think and give me an answer.
Tick tock…1. Tick tock…2. Tick tock…3. Tick tock…4. Tick tock…5.
And the answer is…Once Upon a Potty.
Its Hebrew title – “Seer Ha’Seerim” – is a great play on words. A “Seer” is a potty and “Seerim” are many potties. But the wordplay here deals with King Solomon’s famous poem: “Shir Ha’Shirim”. The word “Shir” means poem, and “Shirim” are many poems. Speaking of poems, a LOT of Israeli children’s books are written in rhyme. That’s because we take the time to think like a King who writes poems one can sing. Which is why I’m going to say “bye” from your favorite fly.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I Want You to See How Some People in Jerusalem Light Their Hanukkiah

Have you ever met an Israeli who arrives early? Late, yes. But early? Never. Well here I am. I know I’m supposed to be visiting you next week, but I just couldn’t control myself. You see, yesterday evening I decided to take a leisurely fly-by at sundown. My destination was Me’ah She’arim – an ultra-orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem. Friends told me that the people living there have the most unbelievable Hanukkah candle lighting custom. While the rest of us light our Hanukkiah next to a window facing the street, they light their Hanukkiot outside their house, on the left hand side of the front door! The reason they do this is the same one you light yours near a window – to visually remind everybody about the miracle of the oil. The only difference is that if you light the Hanukkiah outside, you have to protect the candles from the wind, rain and maybe even snow. That’s why the people in Me’ah She’arim have special glass cases for their Hannukiot. I took a picture of the Hanukkiot lit by one family. Aren’t they neat – and don’t the lit candles look beautiful? They remind me of lanterns. Hey, that’s a great idea: Hanukkiah lanterns. Maybe you can make one as a class project? If not this year, maybe next. By the way, don’t forget to look at the wall of the building. It’s made out of Jerusalem stone. All the buildings in Jerusalem have outer walls like this – it’s the city’s trademark.
Oops. Just looked at my watch. It’s time to fly. I have to get my Hanukkiah ready for tonight. Hmmm…which city should I go to this time?
Hanukkah Sameach…Zvuvi

Sunday, December 6, 2009

My Dreidel is Different than Yours

Shalom Yeladim:

What’s the difference between an Israeli dreidel and an American dreidel?
I’m going to count to five. If you don’t know by the time I reach the number five…I guess I’ll have to tell you.
4…I’m waiting…
5…I couldn’t hear anything over here in Israel. Did anybody give the right answer? You want me to tell you?????
All right, all right.
You see the first row of dreidel letters? Those are the ones you know: the letters Nune, Gimmel, Hey, Shin. They stand for “Nes Gadol Hayah Sham”. That means a big miracle happened there. You say “there” because the miracle of the little oil found in a teeny jug occurred in Israel, which for you is far away. But we live here, in Israel, where the miracle actually happened. So our dreidel doesn’t have the letter Shin. It has the letter Peh – like the one in the next picture. It stands for the word “Poh” – which means “here” in Hebrew. We say “Nes Gadol Hayah Poh” – a big miracle happened here. And it did! The story of the Hanukkah miracle began in the city of Modi’in, birthplace of Judah Macabee – and I’m in a rush to get there. I want to take part in the annual Hanukkah torch relay race that starts in Modi’in and ends at the Western Wall…and I’m going to win. There isn’t a runner in this country who can move as fast as I can.
Wait a minute…what about you? What do you think about holding your own Hanukkah relay race in your gym? Let me know if you do and make sure the winners each get a sufganiyah. That’s Hebrew for jelly doughnut, which is the favorite Hanukkah food in Israel. Doesn’t the picture above make your mouth water? Umm…I can smell the aroma of freshly baked sufganiyot…I land on one and lick the jelly. it good…and…OH MY! I’ve got to fly. I want to be the first one at the race.
See you.
Chag Hanukkah Sameach…Zvuvi