18 June 2008

הערות שוליים

In just over a month, I'll arrive in Israel. I'll spend two weeks with my family at Kinneret1, and then I'll move in with my grandmother and enroll in Ulpan2 from August 6th to September 25th. The semester starts on November 2nd.3 [ETA: I had my itinerary all wrong. I'll post an update soon.]

Right now it is 9:05 p.m. in Jerusalem. At HUJI's4 Institute for Advanced Studies, two floors below the Center for the Study of Rationality5, Joseph Raz6 is approaching the podium to give a talk on "The Guise of the Good," kicking off an international conference on metaethics.

But I'm in the US for 31 more days. Eizo fashla! 7

1 Kinneret is the Hebrew name for the Sea of Galilee. Kinor means violin; the lake is called Kinneret because it's shaped kind of like a violin. See? →
The words "Kinneret" and "Kinor" have the same shoresh (three-letter root): KNR. More on this soon; Hebrew morphology gets a post of its own.

An ulpan is an intensive, immersive Hebrew school. Ulpanim are one of Israel's main ways of absorbing and assimilating of its new immigrants. The one I'll be attending is run by the Rothberg International School (RIS) at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (HUJI), so I expect there to be some study-abroad American undergrads there. But I'm hoping to meet students and immigrants from elsewhere, too.

The school year always starts much later in Israel than it does here, but this year it's pushed back a little extra because of a 90-day higher-ed strike last fall, which delayed the beginning of their fall semester until January 20th. Their spring semester began during our final exam week, and won't end until August 4th.)

4 HUJI is short for the Hebrew University in Jerusalem Israel: my host institution! They pronounce it ['hu.dʒi], except that
[dʒ] is not a permissible onset in Hebrew, so sometimes it's pronounced ['hu.ʒi]/['hud.ʒi]. (Adorable!)

5 The Center for the Study of Rationality is my academic home next year. It's a multidisciplinary association of scholars (economists, psychologists, biologists, mathematicians, statisticians, computer scientists, academic lawyers, ed. theorists, academic lawyers, and philosophers) working on problems associated with the method and application of game theory. It's housed on HUJI's Givat Ram campus, in the third floor of the very-pretty Feldman building. The first two floors belong to the Institute for Advanced Studies.

6 Raz an Israeli expat and one of the most important philosophers — if not the most important — in the field of practical reason. He's also one of the philosophers I got the most exposure to as an undergrad, because my thesis adviser is a good friend of his and a loyal adherent. Getting to hear him give this lecture would have been such a תענוג
for me.

7 My Hebrew-English dictionary translates fashla (פשלה) as "mistake" or "fuck-up." But that's not exactly right. In this case, no one made a mistake; things just hammered out in a disappointing way. It's still a fashla because I narrowly missed out on something awesome.
Incidentally, Esperanto has a stem with a similar meaning: fushi means bungle or fuck up, which is only the at-fault meaning, but fushita means "spoiled" (which may be no one's fault) and fushkontakto means short circuit. Which goes to show, maybe Zamenhof
didn't completely forget about the Semitic languages?

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