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Showing posts from January, 2020

Niftar: How to attend a funeral when there’s an ocean between you

Even in Canada, I knew there were two ways of saying a person died: מת/ meit and נפטר/ niftar . In general, religious people use niftar, even when speaking English – it’s the more polite way of saying it, like “passed away.” But when my father died, eleven years ago tomorrow, and a taxi came to take me to the airport, I told the driver we were hurrying because I had to get back to Toronto because “ abba sheli meit .” There are lots of words you use in religious life that aren’t used so much in contemporary Israeli Hebrew, and so I was just taking a stab at the best possible way of saying it. But Israel being Israel, the cab driver decided it was time for a grammar lesson. “ Niftar . We say he was niftar .” Boy, did I know. (And also – is it my imagination, or only in Israel would a cab driver have the chutzpah correct someone who has just told you their father has died minutes before… ?!) These days, I have a habit that makes my 14-year-old daughter (“I’m basically 15”) cringe: tel