wherein I avoid talking about politics

by Leah Bieler

I don't generally write about politics. Not that I don't have strong political views. I do. But I don't feel as though I need to be yet another voice in the cacophony of voices drowning each other out on TV and in the press and at your family dinners....

So the following is my musings from Jerusalem, the war raging on the ground and on the airwaves. It's published in The Worldpost, which is the best place I could think to publish it on their vast platform. Maybe it should have been in Huffpost Parents?



I was out to dinner in Jerusalem last week with a group of friends, some American, some Israeli. It was a mostly upbeat evening, with good food and wine, a bit too much of both. Thoughts of the war wandered into the meal like a hungry cat nudging at our shins under the table, but there was plenty of levity as well. Most of the Americans at the meal would have been considered fluent in Hebrew by nearly any standard. The conversation arrived at the one piece of language acquisition that can trip up even those of us who dream in a second language: the figure of speech.

One of the diners said she had just had the opportunity to use an expression for the first time, and she was amused that it was one that was itself already an anachronism. The phrase she used was "Nafal ha'asimon." Literally it means "The phone token dropped." It's the Hebrew equivalent of the English expression "A light bulb went off" or "It clicked," meaning "I got it" or "I finally understood." It refers to the old-style Israeli payphones, which required a dedicated phone token in order to make a call. Anyone who's ever used a payphone -- and we're getting to be an elderly bunch -- knows the feeling. You dial your number, then wait until the call connects, the money in the machine engages, and your stomach does that tiny flip of excitement when you know the call has gone through. It's Oprah's "'aha!' moment," I suppose.


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