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Tag Archives: France

Piece of Hebrew/Piece of French

            I recently found a YouTube channel called Piece of Hebrew and I’m a little bit addicted. I’ve been making YouTube lists for everything lately, for videos about Jewish history and Israel for the teenagers at my synagogue, for guided meditation and exercise videos for me, for Hebrew language shows of all kinds for me (and for any of my students who eventually want to improve their Hebrew). And each time I find one good thing, I find ten more that are sort of on topic, or not really, like videos to add background to my Jews around the World curriculum (there were a ton of virtual tours during Covid), and videos to help people plan trips to Israel (I found a really good Israeli tour guide whose videos are helpful and entertaining), and, of course, as soon as we watch a new show in my online Hebrew class I have to go to YouTube to see if I can find more episodes (there’s a great series about Israeli chefs in cities around the world and a bunch of the episodes are on YouTube, with Hebrew subtitles).

“We’re never going outside again.”

            So, somewhere in there I found the Piece of Hebrew videos, hosted by an Israeli Hebrew teacher named Doron, where he talks about Israeli musicians and TV shows and movies, all in Intermediate level Hebrew with English subtitles. And then I watched some episodes that included Elsa, his live in girlfriend who made Aliyah to Israel four years ago from France and became fluent in Hebrew, and then I found out that she has her own YouTube channel called Piece of French, which is in intermediate and advanced French and all about her life in Israel, and in France, and on vacation, and with her family.

            So now I have five or six pages of links to videos, all of which I want to watch right now. Part of the fun is getting to know the two of them and their dog, Bilhah, and how they met, and how and why they started their channels, and then what their lives are like in Israel on a daily basis: with videos on gardening and shopping and camping and whining about random things, all in French or Hebrew, with English subtitles.

“Does Bilhah bark in Modern or Biblical Hebrew?”

            My current online Hebrew teacher was even mentioned in one of Doron’s videos, listing his five favorite Israeli female singers, which probably encouraged me to watch more videos early on, now that I think about it.

            Of course, now I feel like I’m way too far behind in my French, much farther behind than I thought I was, and I worry that I’m not far enough ahead in Hebrew either, and I should be watching these videos for hours every day to improve. And I’m already overwhelmed with my actual work, and trying to figure out how to get everything done between naps, which is probably why I got so deep into the YouTube videos in the first place, because I could watch them on my phone, lying down.

“We love nap time.”

            It’s so nice that the world has adapted to my chronic exhaustion by providing so much passive entertainment, but I wish I could be well enough to actually go to France and Israel (and Italy and Spain and Japan…) and see everything firsthand. Especially the food. I’d really, really like to taste all of the food for myself.

“Me too!”

If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out my Young Adult novel, Yeshiva Girl, on Amazon. And if you feel called to write a review of the book, on Amazon, or anywhere else, I’d be honored.

            Yeshiva Girl is about a Jewish teenager on Long Island, named Isabel, though her father calls her Jezebel. Her father has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with one of his students, which he denies, but Izzy implicitly believes it’s true. As a result of his problems, her father sends her to a co-ed Orthodox yeshiva for tenth grade, out of the blue, and Izzy and her mother can’t figure out how to prevent it. At Yeshiva, though, Izzy finds that religious people are much more complicated than she had expected. Some, like her father, may use religion as a place to hide, but others search for and find comfort, and community, and even enlightenment. The question is, what will Izzy find?

Virtual Field Trips

            At the beginning of the Covid-19 shutdown, my Facebook page flooded with resources for students, including long lists of virtual field trips to zoos and aquariums and exotic locations. And then the adults, feeling left out. started posting pictures and videos of all of the places they wanted to go. And I couldn’t look away.

“What IS this show?”

            I never travel in real life, but, now that I can’t go anywhere, I spend a lot of my time wondering where I’d go if I could. I even saw a car commercial that encouraged people to take to the open road this summer, though my first thought was, I am not going into a gas station, in a town where no one knows me, wearing a bandana over my face. Even as a white woman, that just seemed like a stupid idea. And I haven’t seen that commercial again.

I think, for the most part, people who live in the United States aren’t going anywhere for a while. Instead, I’ve been taking virtual field trips. I’m on the second season of a murder mystery series set in France, where each episode highlights another picturesque French town I’ve never heard of. They pronounce “oui” as “way,” which is disconcerting, but the landscapes are breathtaking. There was a murder on an isolated island, steeped in fog, and a murder on the border with Spain, and a murder set between cliffs and caves, and a murder at the end of a long drive by the sea. I’ve also visited the beach in Sandhamn, for another mystery series, set in Sweden, and then there were murders in Masada, and Tel Aviv, and Tennessee. In order to solve fictional murders, I have vicariously climbed mountains and gone scuba diving and even tried line dancing and Flamenco.

“We could dance too.”

            There’s something extraordinary about the technology that allows us to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time. There’s also something strangely comforting about a murder that can be solved, by someone else, in an hour and a half, with proof, and clear motives, and justice prevailing in the end.

            I’ve also been listening to a lot of Duolingo Spanish Podcasts lately (because I forgot I had subscribed two years ago and now there’s a pile of them on my phone). The varied accents and unfamiliar vocabulary of the stories are a challenge to my advanced beginner Spanish, but the host always steps in, just in time, with an explanation in English. Each podcast is set in a different part of the Spanish speaking world, like Cuba, or Mexico, or Columbia, or Madrid, or Los Angeles, and the narrators tell stories about becoming the first female skydiving teacher in South America, and learning to love your Afro-Latina hair, and building up a mescal factory in rural Mexico, and becoming a successful wheelchair tri-athlete, and on and on.

“Any stories about dogs and their nose-less birds?”

            I don’t think I would have found this much joy in my virtual field trips ten years ago; it would have overwhelmed me. I wouldn’t have known what to do with all of these lives that were nothing like mine, teaching lessons I didn’t feel ready to learn. But therapy has done a lot of work on my internal world. I feel like a construction worker, using my invisible tools to build invisible rooms in my head to store and organize all of my complicated feelings. I’ve learned a lot about pacing, and self-protection, so I’m not as easily flooded; and when a story or idea is more challenging than I can handle, I have plenty of internal shelves to store them on, for later.

            I’m still not at the point where I could manage actually traveling to any of these places in real life, but clearly I don’t have to. Another benefit of virtual field trips is that I don’t have to stockpile a month’s worth of medication from my local drugstore, or try to find someone willing to tolerate Cricket for an extended period of time. I don’t even have to worry about the weather, or a new wardrobe, because I can just wear my pajamas, and rest my head against my air-conditioner, and visit Bombay or Tokyo or Quebec or wherever I choose to go next. Coronavirus be damned.

“Can we go to the dog park?”

If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out my Young Adult novel, Yeshiva Girl, on Amazon. And if you feel called to write a review of the book, on Amazon, or anywhere else, I’d be honored.

            Yeshiva Girl is about a Jewish teenager on Long Island, named Isabel, though her father calls her Jezebel. Her father has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with one of his students, which he denies, but Izzy implicitly believes it’s true. As a result of his problems, her father sends her to a co-ed Orthodox yeshiva for tenth grade, out of the blue, and Izzy and her mother can’t figure out how to prevent it. At Yeshiva, though, Izzy finds that religious people are much more complicated than she had expected. Some, like her father, may use religion as a place to hide, but others search for and find comfort, and community, and even enlightenment. The question is, what will Izzy find?