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Monday, October 15, 2012

And now for some "oys"

Well it can't be all fun all the time here.  I mean even though we have moved to Israel and everything it is still real life.    As  new immigrants our children are entitled by law to ulpan (Hebrew language class) in school.  They are supposed to be receiving around 6  hours per week.  Well friends it is now October 15th and they have received exactly zero hours.  Yes.  Zero.  The principal keeps telling us that she is waiting for the funding from the ministry of education.  Forms have been filled out, phone calls have been made but nothing is happening.  We decided to stop waiting like patient Americans, and go in person to the head honcho here in Mazkeret.  I'll call her the Superintendent of schools for lack of a better translation.  We plead our case.  Our poor children are so depressed in school.  They don't understand anything.  It's so frustrating.  Her response was that we should tell our children not to be so shy.  Don't get so focused on the ulpan she said.  No one learns Hebrew from the ulpan they learn from talking to other kids.  Just tell them not to be shy and start asking what things mean.  OK.  Right.  Um.  That wasn't really the reassurance I was going for.  Maybe we should just implement plan B and bang our heads against a wall.  I've heard that works too.

I mean seriously Israel has absorbed thousands upon thousands of immigrants in the past 60 years (thanks for the pep talk dad!) and I know that so many of them have gone through what my children are going through and that yes the language will not really be learned in the ulpan.  But still.  We need something.  When I was sitting comfortably in Overland Park talking about moving to a non-anglo town so that we would be forced to integrate I guess I didn't really know what I was talking about!  It is hard work.  And people love to say that kids learn languages fast, which they do.  But running to the playground and asking kids to play hide and seek and counting to twenty and then having a conversation about the rules  in a new language, is not the same as listening to a science or grammar lesson in a foreign language.

In the meantime, I am making progress in my own ulpan.  I am amazed to see how quickly we are moving forward .  I am mostly speaking with the Russians in Hebrew now.  That is partly because we are learning more and partly because they told me that my English was very hard to understand with my heavy accent.  I actually almost choked when they told me that.  That's pretty rich.


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