Sunday, March 14, 2010

We have ($24/lb) matzah – and עברית!

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Maybe two months ago, I swiped this Hebrew keyboard layout from the Internet and pasted it into a word document. 

When I had to reinstall Windows to get the computer working (after it suddenly died, very nearly killing me as well), I took a minute to add Hebrew language capabilities PROPERLY; I guess I’d never done it right before.

Now we can switch from English to Hebrew typing with the click of a button – and often, the computer does it for us, triggered by some random keystroke into converting all our text.  Fun!

So I’ve used this Word document to type practice typing search strings and to refer to the keyboard layout when I get stuck looking for a particular letter.

But it seems that I am getting stuck less and less these days.  With a few exceptions, I am now reasonably confident about the locations of the major letters.  Some are easy – reish in the R spot; mem sofit looks like an O and the pay is in the P spot.  Others are totally counter-intuitive; mem is in the N place and for nun goes where B should be.

Slowly, slowly, it is coming.  This is a life skill, right?  In a world where 70% of olim arrive in Israel with no jobs (and often with lousy Hebrew), being able to touch-type and sing HaShafan HaKatan has got to mean something.

Okay, you caught me.  I hate HaShafan HaKatan, along with many other so-called children’s songs.  “La-la-la-hapchi” to you, too.  Rodents with potentially transmissible-to-human viruses simply do not amuse in the age of swine and bird flu – or monkey pox.

Also that Leytzan Katan Nechmad song.  Shudders my North American sensibilities to the bone, for some reason.

So we have matzah!  Shmurah matzah.  Seven pounds:  five white, two whole wheat for Ted.  When I am on top of things – which I was so NOT last year – I get it at the BAYT.  It’s baked in New York, with the baking personally supervised by Rabbi Taub. 

This year, they’re having two Sundays only when they’re selling it, at 9:00 a.m.  Luckily I checked during the week and found out.  There was a line-up when I got there at 8:55, but they had already started serving and the line went quickly enough.  And now it’s sitting out there in the car until I find a clean enough spot to put it inside the house.

I didn’t buy it last year, and I am happy that I did it again this year, even for $2-4 a pound more than regular hand shmurah ($20ish for regular; ours was $24 x 7 lbs - eek) (but it is exceptionally thin, crispy and delicious, if such a thing is possible).  I got a couple of pounds free the year I worked at the BAYT; that’s when I first got hooked.

I have tremendous respect for Rabbi Taub, going back not only to when I worked there but also to sitting in front of him on the Bais Din for Ted’s conversion (though it was actually around the same time; a couple of times during that year, I’d go out on lunch to meet Ted at bais din, only to bump into Rabbi Taub, who I’d just left behind at the office).

Toronto has a rotating bais din for conversions, with 3 members meeting candidates at any given time.  They all seem psychic, or at least very VERY insightful… but Rabbi Taub more so than some.  I missed having his matzah at our seder last year and for several reasons I felt it was important to reaffirm that (small, one-way) connection again this year.

I do realize that all hand shmurah matzah is supervised; I guess I like knowing a bit more about the character of the person who’s doing the supervising.

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