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Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Only a selection of letters can be published. Priority goes to those that are brief and topical. Letters may be edited, and must bear the name and address of the writer.
Car-owning blues
Sir, – Herb Keinon’s “Car parking blues” (Out There, April 25) was great.
In Israel you don’t own a car; the car owns you. The roads are jam-packed with a level of congestion rivaling the scale of Los Angeles at rush hour.
Insurance, vehicle repair and annual inspection costs are stratospheric, not to mention the constantly-rising price of fuel, which, if you do the calculation, amounts to roughly $7 a gallon. The locals also drive like recently released lunatics.
Do everybody a favor, sir.
Take public transportation.
Back to Yiddish
Sir, – With regard to “In Yiddish, of course” (Feature, April 25), although there may have been some resurgence, in Tel Aviv, where Yiddish could once be heard everywhere, it is virtually extinct.
The Yiddish spoken by most Orthodox is a zu brochener Yiddish ohne ta’am (a broken Yiddish without feeling). It is spoken in a heavily accented, unmodulated, inflexionless monotone, spoken az zey volten gehat a heissen kartofel in frumak moyl (as if they had a hot potato in a frum mouth). Zey tzu brechen zach zie tzeyner af dem (they break their teeth on it)! It is not the refined sort of Yiddish that was spoken in der heim by irreligious Yiddishists like Axenfeld, , Gordon, Shalom Aleichem, Peretz, Asch, Singer, etc., or of the Yiddisher Kultur Farband that once flourished.
The Lubavitcher rebbe used to deliver his weekly six-hour-long packed-out farbrengens (hassidic discourses) in Brooklyn in a heavily Nikolayev-accented Yiddish. Yet it was amazing to see young Sephardi Chabad yeshiva students from Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Yemen quickly grasp Yiddish and even give lessons in it after a few months.
In the 1940s, serious consideration was given to Yiddish becoming the official language of the coming state of Israel! The poetic beauty and nuances of Yiddish are unique among languages.
It has an unusually vivid record of the cultural autonomy reached by Ashkenazi Jews in the Diaspora. It is basically German, the language of Gomer, son of Japheth (Talmud Yoma 10), but written in the holy letters of Hebrew.
Hassidim joke that it was revealed on Mount Sinai and that Moses was fully conversant in mamme loshen! Yiddish expresses the soul.
Der yiddishe krechtz kumt fun dos pintele yid (the Jewish sigh comes from a Jew’s innermost essence). There were once 12 million Yiddish speakers worldwide and it was a key to instant recognition and amicability.
The decline of this strong bond was a cause of much regret.
Hopefully, it is being reversed.
Appreciating the gift
Sir, – Jonathan Rosenblum’s musings on Pessah cleaning (“Random thoughts on the joys of Passover cleaning,” Think Again April 18) were, as usual, well written and evocative of precious memories of times past for me and many other readers.
I especially liked the comments about the boy from LA who, being used to his family packing up and leaving their home for Pessah at a hotel is brought to the rabbi’s home to sell the family’s hametz and sees the chaos that is Passover cleaning and cannot understand what is happening. He wrote of his friend’s sadness in the boy’s lack of appreciation for what goes into preparing for our festival of freedom, and couldn’t help but muse myself about the lack of appreciation that we see in certain sectors of our people for the daily efforts and sacrifices many of us make in order to live in a secure, Jewish state.
If we extrapolate the preparations that need to be done for Passover to, say, the need to make sure that our country and society remain spiritually and physically strong, it is indeed a shame that a segment of our population has been imbued with a sense that it merely needs to “show up at the hotel” while others have been raised with the understanding that they personally have a responsibility to share in the defense of the country, requiring them to set aside time from their families, work and Torah learning.
I wonder whose children appreciate more the gift that God has given us.