Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Ani Iparon

My dad grew uip without any hebrew language skills to speak of. at some point, he was in Israel, he told us, and jaywalked across the street. A police officer came up to him, and started yelling at him in Hebrew, My dad looked at the officer, and saying the only hebrew sentence he knew, said Ani Iparon (I am a pencil).

The story has become part of family lore, and whenever we joke about not being able to speak hebrew, or want to change the subject, we say Ani Iparon.

I told you that story so I could tell you this story.

Last night, at my hebrew ulpan class I am taking at the shul, the rabbi walked into the room to say hello to the group. He clowned around for a minute, stepped out of the room, and then walked back in. I want to tell you the funniest story ever, he told us. When I was in Yeshiva, my friend was jaywalking, and a police officer stopped him. The officer was yelling at my friend, who just looked at the officer, and then, my friend said Ani Iparon.

The class laughed, and the rabbi left the room.

But the whole incident left me dumbfounded, and leaves three possibilities.

A) This story happened to both my dad and the rabbi's friend. I find this unlikely that two people would look at a cop blankly and give the same Ani Iparon sentence.

2) This story happened to neither of them, and is just urban legend. And while I would not put it past my dad to make up a story to get a laugh, I find it unlikely that he would keep this particular story going for so many years.

C) This story happened to my dad, and turned into an urban legend afterwards.

Anyone want to vote?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is an urban legend. My father told me the same story about his first trip to Israel circa 1980.

M in MKE

February 28, 2006 9:17 AM  
Blogger The Zwicker said...

I heard that story about someone else as well.

February 28, 2006 9:49 AM  
Blogger Air Time said...

I just called my dad to ask him about the story. I always remembered hearing the story as something that happened to him, but this maybe I just didn't pay close attention.

Anyway, he told me this morning that the story happened to a friend of my grandparents.

February 28, 2006 10:15 AM  
Anonymous Heidi said...

I bet it has to do with the power of suggestion. It happened to one person, everyone thought it was hilarious, so when another person was in the same predicament, he too said "Ani Iparon". Whether or not your dad was the original ani iparoner, I dont know.

Now that I have heard the story, if I am ever in that situation, chances are I will not be able to say anything but ani iparon either.

February 28, 2006 10:19 AM  
Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

I've heard this story SOOO many times, about a Michlala sem student in 1985, a Machon Gold Girl in 1989. I know a girl who personally told me it was her.

This story is definitely an urban legend.

However, in the spirit of Adar...I'll tell you my most embarrassing oleh-Hebrew moment.

I was living in Tel Aviv, and needed to take the bus to Jerusalem to work every day. Egged and the Train System had just started a "Park and Ride" system, and the Arlozorof Station had a big sign, "Chaneh V'Sa Arlozorof." (Park and Ride, Arlozorof).

Since I had only been here less than a year, and hadn't yet mastered Ivirt, I thought the sign was a testimony to the Donors of the parking lot (hey, in Israel, everything is donated)...and I thought the sign was in honor of the parking lot donors: "Chana and Sa Arlozorof"

I started to suspect something when I saw another sign a few weeks later, by the exact same donors, but with a different last name, "Chana and Sa" something else.

When I asked my wife about it, she burst out laughing hysterically at me.

Then again, in Yeshiva, I could never understand why everywhere you went there were signs pointing to the "makolet". Was Israel such a food crazy country that you needed signs everywhere?

Took about a week to realize the sign said, "Miklat" and not "Makolet"

March 01, 2006 6:36 AM  
Blogger Air Time said...


March 01, 2006 7:48 AM  
Blogger Emah S said...

Sounds like the time when someone from my Year Course (YJ year program in Israel) who stood up in the bus and yelled at passengers who were smoking, "Slicha, asoor lishon po" (excuse me, it is forbidden to sleep here) as opposed to the correct "Slicha, asoor LAASHEN po" ....to smoke here....

then there was the clown in our ulpan who told the bus driver,

"Yesh li melafefon b'kis" ...I have a cucumber in my pocket. HE thought he was really funny.

great blog....

March 01, 2006 10:25 AM  
Blogger Air Time said...

Thanks susie

March 01, 2006 10:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember the time Air and I were at a restaurant in Israel, and he wanted the waiter to bring us some glasses so he asked him to bring some "mishkafaim"

March 01, 2006 2:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And there was the time Air and I went jogging to a fruit stand, and he wanted to know if the fruit was fresh, so he asked the guy if the fruit was "chutzpadik"

March 01, 2006 2:50 PM  
Anonymous yonah said...

It may be an urban legend, but a rosh yeshiva who lives on our yishuv personally told me and others his story about being pulled over by an officer while driving and beamingly stating "ani iparon tov" which led to the cop laughing, rolling his eyes, and letting him go.

no chance whatsoever that this nice, aydle, honest and gute-neshoma would ever lie about this, so it definitely happened at least once that I would vouch for.

March 01, 2006 4:21 PM  
Blogger Veev said...

Anon, you are my new best friend!! I love these stories about Air. Especially the ones where he's both jogging and butchering Hebrew...

March 01, 2006 5:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"New Best Friend"???????

Can guys and girls be friends???

March 01, 2006 7:25 PM  
Blogger the sabra said...

oh my! my laughter organs are about to burst (huh?)
fresh fruit=chutzpadik?? heehee
o woah i have a whole sack full of those great hebrew lines-
...My friend asked the waiter for a 'ma'achelet' instead of a sakin.
...I asked the owner of a shoe store if i can receive a 'mitzvah' if i buy enough pairs of shoes and after enough begging he agreed. I was thrilled and oh so proud of my bargaining skills. Didn't realize why he was laughing so hard until someone pointed out that the word is mivtza (sale vs a good deed)
...friend walks into a restaurant "atem sheirutim?" (vs yesh sheirutim poh?)
...Introduced my friend and I as 'chayot'. The woman kindly told us that no, we weren't. I insisted that we were and wouldn't let her explain. Took about five full minutes for the meaning to sink in.
That's still my favorite one, I think.
o and the list is endless..

But the ani iparon beats them all. I am giggling uncontrollably at the thought of it..can't wait to use it!

March 02, 2006 6:23 AM  
Anonymous gingit said...

In Tel Aviv bus station I asked the people around me: eifo hasherutyim leHeifa po? - where are the toilettes to haifa here?

And in bus in Hebron a russian soldier shouted to the busdriver from behind to open the backdoor: nahag, tiftach oti meahora - driver, open me from behind...

great page!

March 02, 2006 4:48 PM  
Blogger ~ Sarah ~ said...

great post :)
think it's somewhat of an urban legend... have heard it elsewhere before as well!

March 04, 2006 9:48 PM  
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Blogger Shimon said...

I don't know if anyone will ever see comments posted on a two-year-old+ blog, but seeing Jameel's stories today reminded me of a few of my own.

Like the fact that there were always TWO names announced at the beginning of the news, "and now the news by -ploni almoni- and -Ikaran tehila-" (which really means something like "first, the headlines")

And I didn't understand the posters I kept seeing (which were left over from the previous election) which said "hatzeva emet" (the color truth???) but really meant "hatzba EMT" - vote the list with those letters - the labor party.

May 12, 2008 10:55 AM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

I think Heidi's right - people always heard the similar story, so when in a similar situation, that's what they go with.

May 12, 2008 2:17 PM  
Blogger Bas~Melech said...

I think "Ani iparon" is just a phrase calculated to sound just funny enough so that people will both think you know no Hebrew AND not hold that against you. Hence, its reported use on police officers, etc.

May 13, 2008 10:29 PM  
Blogger Ze'ev Felsen said...

My favorite is a story I heard from someone who wanted to get off a bus at a certain kibbutz. As the bus went by the stop, the fellow got up and yelled "Tafsik tafsik. Ani tzarich laledet" (I need to give birth) instead of "laredet" (to disembark).

July 05, 2012 10:43 PM  

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