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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Crossing the Line -- Becoming Israeli

This summer, I will have been living in Israel for 21 years.  Add to that the year I spent in Israel after high school, and that makes 22 years of living in Israel.

I am 44.  As of next year, I will have spent more of my life in Israel, than in the US.

This year, at Shavua HaSefer (book week), because of another purchase we made, we had the opportunity to purchase the Even-Shoshan Dictionary at an incredible price.  Due to the internet, there is less of a need for reference books.  Still, living in Israel and possessing only English-Hebrew dictionaries felt... wrong.

How could I be living here for over 20 years and not own a proper Hebrew dictionary?

The Even-Shoshan Dictionary is THE dictionary to get.  It contains far more than mere definitions of words. It contains definitions of phrases and references to where particular words or phrases appear in Tanach and Israeli literature.  It is SO DAMN COOL!!

And I got one!

I have wanted one for years, but they were so expensive.  The set usually costs over 700 NIS.  Recently it sold, on sale, for around 420 NIS.  I got it for 250 NIS!! 

In my mind, owning an Even-Shoshan Dictionary is quintessentially Israeli.

I felt so proud, like I had finally crossed the line from being a new immigrant to being Israeli. 

I do not own an Oxford dictionary, but I own the Even-Shoshan Dictionary.

As often happens, as soon as I made the purchase, I started having doubts.  What if my kids, for whom I really got it, never use it?  What if I got a good deal, but still wasted the money?  What if it just sits on my shelf, gathering dust?

Well, today, I used it, myself, a lot!

It is a bit of a long story (i.e. the topic for another post), but I proofread the text for Tefillat HaDerech and discovered that it was very important to me that the text be grammatically correct, down to every dagesh and every comma.

I got totally into the details. 

I pulled out the dictionary.

Wow.  Just wow.

Not only could I ensure grammatical accuracy, I caught several textual references that I otherwise would not have known.

This is the coolest dictionary.  I had so much fun looking up the exact spelling of particular words, that you might think I am normally this pedantic about grammar.  I am not.

But if I am putting something in print, I want it to be right.

I bought the dictionary less than a month ago, and I used it already.

I am so happy we got it.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,


Bernie said...

Good for you RivkA....I'm sure the children will appreciate it as well. They may only need to use it a few times but will be so happy they have it when they need it....:-)Hugs

Anonymous said...

T'tchadshu! we have the "merucaz" edition. it even gets taken off the shelf from time to time...
BTW, i will mention this *only* since you insist on accuray in print - I think you meant "textual referances",unless you perhaps meant phrases and words describing smoothness, roughness, etc. ;-)

cant wait for the bat mitzva! (though i'm sorry we wont be there to hear Aliza layn)

love, bigbearhug, and good thoughts going your way

Mordechai Y. Scher said...

I had a similar response when I bought my 3 volume Even Shushan in the 80s. Good for you! To add to your enjoyment, there are appendixes on dikduk and nikkud. I used them to cram for the Ivrit section of my teaching certificate exam. Very helpful.

Limud poreh!

rutimizrachi said...


I got such a smile, reading this post. Thank you.

Batya said...

I'm impressed; my Hebrew hasn't progressed all that much recently.

RivkA with a capital A said...

Bernie -- I am told they will need it for their bagruyot (matriculation exams)

BW -- Thanks for that pick-up. At first, I could not understand your comment -- then I found the "textural" reference.... oops! Fixed that!

Mordechai -- always good to know there are others out there who love learning Hebrew! I read this post to my eldest daughter and she just rolled her eyes in that "how Geeky can you get?" sort of way...

Ruti -- :-)

Batya -- when I was looking up what I wanted to know, I saw so many interesting entries. If you are looking to improve your Hebrew knowlege and appreciation, just open up the dictionary and read!

Mordechai Y. Scher said...

I guess we're both geeky. I still get pleasure every time I use the Even Shoshan.

I owe you a thank you. By the merit of your blog, I have been reconnected with my friends Michael and Naomi. All to your credit. Todah!

And, it isn't exactly Tzfat, but Santa Fe is pretty high ;-). We're davening for you. You should feel well and have many s'mahot with your family.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

RivkA: Someone sent me a few years ago, "The Aliya Half Life" worksheet, which you enter in your birthday, aliya day, and it computes your "Aliyah half life" (or when you've lived here half your life...)

I'm almost there :-)

RivkA with a capital A said...

Mordechai -- totally cool!!

Jameel -- does it take into account time spent in Israel before your official Aliyah date? (you know, the year or two you spend in Israel after high school....)

mrg & grm said...

I bought an edited Even-Shoshan many years ago and also thought, is it worth it? For me, it was. I understand the joy of flipping through the dictionary, following various trails and paths and learning new things. Enjoy!