Today was the first day of school. Today was super-overwhelming, completely crazy, and just a tiny bit cool. Why so overwhelming? Well, let’s start with the fact that everything is in a foreign language. Boy, am I going to have to learn Hebrew fast! I didn’t understand anything my teacher said — someone even had to explain the words for bathroom and recess to me. (I’ll help you out in case you ever go to school in Eretz Yisrael. Sherutim means bathroom and hafsakah means recess.) I’m not saying I’m a genius or anything, but I did pretty well in school back in New York. So it was kind of a blow to my ego to not understand a word the teacher said today.
Thankfully, my school does a lot to help olim kids like me and my brothers. Firstly, my brothers and I are going to ulpan five days a week. At ulpan, we learn Ivrit (Hebrew) with other olim students. That means that most school days, we’ll get pulled out of class to learn Hebrew. Wondering why I said we have ulpan most days if I also said we have ulpan five days a week? Five days a week sounds like every day of school, right? Wrong! That’s the other overwhelming thing about school in here — there’s school 6 days a week! Hasn’t anyone ever heard of Sunday in this country?
You may be wondering when there’s time for sports and stuff if there aren’t any Sundays off. Well, that was one of the first things I asked my translator (I’ll tell you more about him another time). My translator, Avi (a boy in my class), told me not to worry at all. He said there’s plenty of time to play every afternoon. He said kids in Eretz Yisrael play outside a ton after school. Remember, there’s almost no snow here, so you can usually play outside all year long. Woohoo!
So although school today was pretty scary and made me want to run for the first plane back home, I’ll be honest with you: there were some cool parts about school. So here are some cool things to add to my list:
- Chocolate sandwiches! The weirdest thing happened. At 10 a.m., my teacher told us all to take out our bread for aruchat eser. Avi explained to me that in Eretz Yisrael, at 10 a.m., every school in the country has aruchat eser (which literally means “ten o’clock meal”) and every teacher in the country insists that you eat some sort of bread at this 10 a.m. meal. Whatever happened to morning snack time with chips or apple slices? Well, I looked around at all the boys in my class taking out rolls and pitot, and get this — the most popular aruchat eser food was a chocolate sandwich! Avi looked at my cream cheese sandwich pityingly and offered me half of his sandwich — his mother literally sends him two pieces of white bread with chocolate spread smeared on them. Avi said to make sure my mother buys a jar of chocolate spread so that I have the right kind of sandwich for tomorrow. Chocolate for lunch? I love this country!
(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 781)
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