The Last Month in Israel … in Ladino Sayings

When I read Sarah’s “Sometimes you need Yiddish to get the job done” last week, not only did I think it was a great read, but I also thought something similar should be done in Ladino. My father’s family is from Rhodes and Southern Turkey, and the songs and sayings (not to mention food, but that will have to wait for another day) of this beautiful region’s Jewish heritage were a part of the household. Like Sarah’s piece, I’ve decided to take a few headlines from the last month and use some of the famous Ladino sayings to describe my feelings about them. Drum roll …

Yair Lapid’s budget cuts have, as predicted, caused a storm. Despite support from the likes of Stanley Fischer and Shimon Peres, Lapid saw the “Social Justice Protest” MK II begin last Saturday night. The saying used in the picture below translates to, “Now you will see of what stick my spoon is made,” which means “Now you will see of what material I am made.” Time will tell if Lapid’s “material” will create a healthy economy (and Israel’s future prime minister), or if it will cause the quick disappearance of his party, much like his late father’s party, Shinui.

Yair Lapid

Despite the Syrian civil war raging on for almost two years, Israel has stayed out of the conflict. However, two weeks ago, Israel struck twice in two days. The reactions were as predicted – silence or quiet approval from Europe and the US, and condemnation from the Arab world – even from Assad’s biggest critics (like Tayyip Erdogan). The Ladino phrase means, “When the hen lays an egg, it wakes up the whole village.” Israel, the hen, attacked twice in 24 hours, and the Middle East, the whole village, arose in furor…. Sad that it needs mentioning, but the estimated 60,000 deaths in Syria have barely raised a peep in the same village.


The news this past Friday, the beginning of the Hebrew month of Sivan, was extremely sad and infuriating. Regardless of where you stand on the Women of the Wall, the desecration of one of Judaism’s holiest spots was tragic to watch. Surely, this is the one place where we can get away from this kind of behavior? The Ladino phrase translates to, “Blood will start running.” It normally refers to a confrontation that may turn violent because the adversaries do not seem to be ready for compromise.


In other news, it came to light that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spent $127,000 (over 450,000 shekels) of taxpayers’ money to have an El Al plane fitted with a double bed in an enclosed bedroom for his five-hour flight to London last month to attend the funeral of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Not exactly what the Israeli people need to hear, considering the budget cuts on the way. As the saying says, “Pockets with holes” … a nicer way of saying big spender!


Let’s end with some positive news – which does happen often in Israel, believe it or not. Waze, the free GPS software developed in Israel, has caught the interest of Facebook, who are said to be willing to pay one billion dollars for it. Good … good like good bread!


Until next time, salud I vida!