Ulpan and Officer Azulai


Yesterday was our last learning day of ulpan, the final day in which our teachers presented new material. Sunday is largely a review day and Monday is reserved for a rather long and arduous final exam. I am almost through!

In class, the focus was on the pairing of verbs with their appropriate prepositions and the conjugations of these pronouns. These subjects are important to speaking the language for several reasons:

In Hebrew, if an incorrect pronoun is used following a verb you may sound stupid. Think about the difference between running on the street and running in the street. Even more importantly it may entirely change the meaning of the verb. For instance, להודות (l’hodot), when attached to the preposition ל- means “to thank” but when attached to the preposition ב- it means “to admit.” Another example of which I am quite fond is the verb, לבקר (l’vaker). When using the preposition ב- or אצל it means “to visit” but when using the preposition את it means “to criticize.”

The prepositions themselves are also frequently conjugated in Hebrew in order to personalize the direction they indicate. For example, אצל (indicating a location where something is done) can be conjugated to אצלי meaning at my place. Some of the conjugations are not nearly as straightforward, however. like בלי meaning without. Without me comes out as בעלדי in part owing to however the word may have been spelled in biblical or ancient rabbinic Hebrew but now simplified in its modern form. Bottom line, remembering them all is going to require a lot more studying. Story of my life.

About midway through class, we watched one of my favorite Israeli movies, השוטר אזולאי, “The Officer Azulai,” translated in English as simply “The Policeman.” It’s a great story about a kind-hearted but seemingly incompetent policeman in Yaffo. His superiors want to force him into early retirement, but he needs to get a promotion in order to secure his pension. Here is one of my favorite clips. Apologies, it is only available in Hebrew. The first time I saw the movie was when I was in my first year of university taking a Hebrew class. There we watched it with English subtitles. This time our subtitles were only in Hebrew. It probably helped that I was already familiar with the plot but I felt like I understood most of what was going on most of the time.

In the evening, I met up with a bunch of friends at a bar off of Ben Yehudah, which was lots of fun, but we probably stayed out too late. Today, I’m going to do a bit of studying, run a few errands, and then hop out to Nahlaot to spend Shabbat with friends. Come Sunday, it’s back briefly to the grind and then soon on to the next adventure.

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