OFANAYIM! MISHKAFAYIM! A story by Esther Malka Fein

This story is by Esther Malka Fein who made aliya three years ago from California. She is an English tutor, living in Yerushalayim. This story happened about two years ago.

You say glasses...

On one of my crowded bus trips, a passenger unknowingly dropped his glasses. Without noticing the incident, the crowd was rushing to get off at the bus stop.  Being a new Olah [immigrant to Israel], struggling with my new language,  I couldn’t think of the word “eyeglasses” in Hebrew.  So before the crowd had a chance to step on the glasses, I wanted to alert someone to pick them up.   I stood up from my seat (in the back), pointed to the floor of the bus and screamed out repetitiously, “OFANAYIM, OFANAYIM.”

...I say bicycle.

Everyone turned around to look at me.  Ofanayim means bicycle, while mishkafayim (eyeglasses) is what I meant to say.  Nonetheless, to my relief, my urgent sounding message prompted someone to bend down, retrieve the glasses and hand them to the person who had already exited from the autobus.

Glasses photo by LWY on flickr.

Bike photo by xddorox on flickr.


9 thoughts on “OFANAYIM! MISHKAFAYIM! A story by Esther Malka Fein

  1. Ah, this story reminds one of the oh-so-famous mishkafayim/michnasayim mix-up. Everyone seems to know *someone* who made that gaffe.

    My personal favourite is when I confused “makir” and “mkarer.” Yes, I said I refrigerated someone quite well.

  2. Many years ago my late mother-in-law, who spoke Hebrew Yiddish, and English, was visiting Italy. She was on bus in Rome and realized she had gone past the stop where she needed to get off. Not knowing any Italian she had to signal the bus driver to stop and shouted “Rega, Rega” (“Just a minute”) as she would have in Tel Aviv. As if he understood her, the bus driver brought the bus to a stop and my mother-in-law got off. I guess bus people understand each other in any language.

  3. When I was in my first ulpan in Arad (34 years ago!) one of the students came into class late. Our teacher said that I should tell him that he is late. Instead of saying אתה מאוחר (you are late), I said אתה מכוער (you are ugly)!

  4. When I first came someone asked me what bus was approaching. I said I couldn’t see the number because I wasn’t wearing my “magafayim”.

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