February 13, 2012 | Hebrew
Field Trip: Borough Park
On a cold and blustery morning, I walk down New Utrecht Avenue.
I began studying Dutch two days ago, but I really wanted to squeeze in one more Hebrew-related activity before moving on. So yesterday I decided to go walk around Borough Park, a neighborhood in southwestern Brooklyn. I am nearly positive I had never been there before.
Where I Got Off the D Train
According to Wikipedia, repository of global wisdom: “Borough Park is home to one of the largest Orthodox Jewish communities outside of Israel, with one of the largest concentrations of Jews in the United States and Orthodox traditions, rivaling many insular communities. Since the average number of children in Hasidic and Hareidi families is 6.72, Borough Park is experiencing sharp growth.”
I took the D train. (That reminded me of how when I was in college a group called D Train had an R&B hit called “Something’s On Your Mind.”) As soon as I got off the subway at 50th Street, there was Hebrew everywhere. [Addendum from July 7, 2013: now that I am studying Yiddish, I have realized that a lot of what I saw was actually Yiddish, which uses the Hebrew alphabet. My apologies.] And although I can’t confirm that birth rate, the ratio of baby carriages I saw to the number of adults walking around was very high.
12th Avenue, Borough Park
One thing I neglected to consider before heading to Brooklyn was the weather forecast. It has been so warm this winter it didn’t occur to me to take a look at the temperature.
It should have occurred to me, however, because New Utrecht Avenue between 50th and 55th streets is one of those New York City wind tunnel streets. I think with the wind chill it might have been around 20 degrees. I was dressed for about 40 degrees, and while I have some degree of stoicism where grammar is concerned, I have none whatsoever for wintry weather.
Kehila Butcher Store
I had to laugh at myself. Not good planning. Also, I got there too early, before most of the shops were open, but to be frank, even if they had been open, I would not have felt comfortable just walking in and shooting the breeze.
Women wore wigs. Their attire was very modest. Men had side curls, yarmulkes, and beards.
I wore jeans and a T-shirt and a fitted gray jacket: a Sunday morning uniform for me. I would have felt weird, and possibly rude and disrespectful, just going in and hanging out and asking a bunch of questions.
Maybe I am mistaken, but I think sticking to my external stroll was best. I saw cool stuff in any case. Neat signs. Interesting stores that are not what I would usually see in my own Upper West Side neighborhood.
Some stores without, but many with, Hebrew lettering.
They Sell Schnitzl Here
The Wig Artist
This Store Has a Facebook Page!
Publications for Sale at VOOS IZ NeiESS
Mishpacha Means Family in Hebrew
13th Avenue, I Think
I was shivering too much to last very long.
As I said farewell to Borough Park, I mourned the end of my Hebrew unit. I can just tell that the language does not have a tenacious hold in my brain. It’s too different from English, for one thing, and I usually forget those languages at a much faster rate than the European ones. And they are for sure harder to refresh.
A Final View, Borough Park
When I think about Hebrew and the inside of my head, the image that keeps coming to mind is the houses they build in Malibu on cliffs near the ocean. And then I think of mudslides.
Some of that has to do with the fact that I never found a grammar book I really liked for Hebrew, at least not one with lots of good exercises.
Without grammar lessons, I have trouble remembering things.
That’s just me. The more experience I have with this language-learning stuff, the more convinced I am that different people learn differently.