Saturday, July 18, 2015

Teaching Spanish to Arabs

Since working at Yafiz, Sha'ar Binyamin, I've gotten to know a lot of Arabs and a lot about Islam. Their Ramadan fast isn't like any of our Jewish fasts. First of all they fast for the entire month, only during daylight hours. And as soon as the sun begins to set, they can eat. They don't have to wait for darkness. And Ramadan isn't just about feasting and fasting. After Ramadan they celebrate Eid-al-Fitr with lots of food and feasting. And for Eid-al-Fitr they also need new clothes for the entire family.

Arabs shopping in Rami Levy, Sha'ar Binyamin
Over the years working in Yafiz, I've learned that this is a holiday in which only new clothes are worn, and I shouldn't try to help them be practical. They want the nicest and most fashionable for themselves and their children.

A lot of the men like a style of shirt we always sell. The problem is that the brand we have now doesn't have the usual S, M, L, XL etc to indicate sizes. Apparently, the company is from Spain or South America, although, like everything else, the shirts are "Made in China." The sizes on these shirts are P, M and G. Almost everyone finds this confusing.

Luckily, I studied Spanish in high school and used to be pretty fluent, so remembering that grande is large and pequeño is small didn't take me long.

I've been teaching our customers, and other staff members, these Spanish words for weeks already. There's a humor in this at times. Here I am with my horrendous American-accented Hebrew teaching everyone some basic Spanish words. And when I'm dealing with Arabs, we use lots of pantomime and my very limited Arabic vocabulary which consists of barely a handful of words. Among them is achbar, or something like that, which means "bigger." And we joke around and never say a word about politics. They like shopping in our store, and I enjoy selling.

This may not be what the Leftists call "peace," but it sure isn't war.

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