Thanks to all for your emails with personal news. I miss everyone and look forward to hearing how each of you is doing.
I spent most of the week in Ma’ale Levona alternately working with Danny on the website and with Yossi on his book. The website is coming along OK, but Danny and I know just enough html code to be dangerous.
Yossi and I have finally fallen into a groove of writing chapters for his 2nd book. Too bad we weren’t in this place weeks ago since I only have 5 weeks left in the country. Anyway, Yossi dictates and then I complain:
Me: “You can’t say it that way.”
Yossi: “Why not? That’s exactly how I want to express myself.”
Me: “But, Yossi, you are using a word that doesn’t exist in English!”
Yossi: “What’s wrong with saying, ‘The whole landscape is a dessertish yellow’?”
Me: “Because ‘dessertish’ is not a word.”
Yossi: “OK, so we’ll make it a word.”
I strain my brain, looking for a worthy synonym. For some reason, all my vocabulary has gone south and I can’t think of a single word to replace “dessertish”.
So, I say, “Yossi, you have asked for my help. English is not your first language. I have to tell you when you say something that no one would ever read in the English-language. Having said this, it’s your book. If you want to say “desertish” then “desertish” it is.
Yossi: “OK. I understand; but I still want to say ‘desertish’.”
So I type “desertish yellow” and the word is underlined in red by the spell checker. And, we move on.
Before I left Ma’ale Levona last night Judy Kransdorf gave me a thesaurus. Now, when I return to help Yossi, I’ll have some help with my vocabulary
The real problem is that Hebrew, like Greek, is a “picture language”. Every Hebrew word paints a picture that the speaker or listener “sees” when the language is spoken. English is not a picture language (poetry is our best attempt) and this difference is almost impossible to explain to someone whose main language is spoken in pictures. That is why Yossi needs to make up words so the reader can see or smell what he means and it has been difficult for me to explain that some expressions simply don’t translate.
Last night, Scott and Theresa (remember that I am staying in their apartment in Jerusalem) came to Ma’ale Levona to join lots of the residents of the yishuv (settlement) for Yitzchak and Aviva Ernst’s daughter’s Bat Mitzva. I won’t take the time to explain what that is if you don’t know. It was held in the yishuv’s community room. Haya Mushka is the girl’s name and she just turned 12. Boys have a Bar Mitzva at age 13. Girls must mature earlier, or something like that.
Left Ma’ale Levone late with Scott and Theresa to drive back to Jerusalem. Because of the short time I have left, Yossi is really geared up to spend as much time as possible in the writing process. On the 5th of October the Feast of Tabernacles begins and just about everyone will be preoccupied. It is the major feast of the year and lasts a week. The following week both Danny and Yossi will be busy with a tour group. That is also my last week in Israel and I have been invited by Danny and Yossi to join the tour. I’m not sure I want to spend the money, but we’ll see.
Yesterday the weather was absolutely beautiful. It was the kind of day people who sail pray for: A warm sun along with a cool, strong breeze blowing in from the Sea. I could see myself in Blake’s little sailboat, sailing on the Sea of Galilee. The evenings are cooling down a lot now. The days are still pretty warm, but you can feel fall in the air.
Took this picture from Ma’ale Levona. I am facing due west toward the Mediterranean Sea which can be seen from where I am standing on clear, winter days. Looks sort of like east Tennessee except there are no trees to speak of on the hills. There has been no topsoil on these hills for about a thousand years and it will take generations to reforest the land. This is the same view at sunset. The sun looks weird because the wind whips up the dust that is free to rise without the presence of topsoil to hold it to the ground.
A lady from Holland has joined us in the apartment for the next two weeks. She is here to help Theresa sew costumes for the Feast.
Keep those emails and comments coming.