These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

British Q&A

Posted on March 12, 2013 by Naomi Minsky

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Here is my presentation from the Pardes Purim spiel:

In the spirit of what we learnt about conflict resolution I am going to provide feedback on how I feel and relate to the Pardes community.

I will begin by outlining my expectations prior to coming here. I came to Pardes excited to learn with students from all different backgrounds. The website talks so much about celebrating diversity. So I was shocked to find myself in the position of fulfilling an ethnic minority quota. Apart from a few fellow foreigners you are all the same. BLOODY AMERICANS!!!!!!! I know we have Canadians, but to be honest I can’t tell the difference. You all have these strange accents.

usuk

During my first few weeks here I was confused. People looked dazzled when I spoke, not being able to understand what I was saying. I found it helpful to talk LOUDLY, CLEARLY and SLOWLY using language similar to that of a small child. Not being able to understand my accent was okay. I know that your experience of British culture was limited to watching Downton Abbey. I think you had a hard time adjusting to a non-fictional real life Londoner.

What I found unacceptable was your obsession with imitating me, I just did not and still do not get it. Talking as if you are from England is not funny. One day I decided to keep a tally of accent impressions I heard. 18 TIMES IN ONE DAY. It was a monday so night seder extends the time we spend together. But 18 times, really? When four of the culprits were members of staff, without naming and shaming one was a very senior member, I resigned myself to my reality for the next year.

That being the case, I would like to educate you on the gem that is England. I have put together a selection of the questions that you have asked me about the Motherland.

  1. qeWhat is the point of the Queen?
    • The Queen is amazingness personified. She is a a fantastic leader and a symbol of England’s magnificent long history of monarchy. Whilst Obama smiles and say good one liners, the queen can wave, pull off wearing block colours, and has the power to dissolve parliament. Whatever, Barack Obama ‘Can we do it, Yes we can’.
  2. Do you have microwaves in England?
    • Yes we do, electricity as well.
  3. What is the name of the vegetable that you eat with a cucumber?
    • I am going to say this once and once only, it is a TOMATO.
  4. Is the NHS real, do you really have free health care?
    • Yes look and learn my friends. Seriously it is 2013 individual healthcare was so 1940s.
  5. Why do you call soccer football?
    • Because it makes perfect sense. In what you you call football you use your hands more than your feet. In my football the players actually use their feet. Whilst we are on the topic, the bench mark of my countries civilisation is that the players do not have to wear helmets and padding to play a simple ball game.
  6. What do british people think about insert topic?
    • Well unlike America, Britain is a country of robots and we all think exactly the same and have the same opinions on everything. Seriously, we study at Pardes where there are 50 students and 100 opinions and you have the audacity to ask me what an entire country thinks about a subject.
  7. Are there Jews in England?
  8. Are you being sarcastic?
    • probably.
  9. Are your schools like Hogwarts/ What OWLS did you take?
    • We have houses and prefects but that is it. Harry Potter does not actually exist. I apologise if this is new to any of you. Sure we can sort this out during group processing later.
  10. I love your accent, will you read me a bedtime story?
    • No that is weird.
  11. How can you be British when you do not have a stiff upper lip?
    • ……I am Jewish!
  12. I thought British people were supposed to have manners
    • …….. I am Jewish!
  13. Are you Posh/ Do you have a cockney accent?
    • ……. I am Jewish!

It is hard for me to be away from my land and people during Purim. As well as celebrating the victory of the Jewish people over Haman, the Megilah tells us the story of two Queens. Not one but TWO! The Queen is central too my national identity and I miss her. Considering how many of your stupid impressions I put up with, the least you can do is join me in the honour of toasting her majesty.

Ladies and Gentlemen. Please be upstanding and charge your glasses. The toast is her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the second, her advisors and counsellors. Long may she reign with wisdom and absolute power.