the 90th minute

Until September 2007, when my oldest daughter was born, this blog covered daily life and politics in Israel, as well as Hebrew-English linguistic issues, from the perspective of an American-raised journalist and translator living in Israel. Now it mostly serves as the SmunchMonk&Bear news agency, a portal into the bizarre universe of the little people. Read more at:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Where's the cake?

This is an Israeli birthday song that Rimonit loves and which I hadn't heard of before coming to Israel. The words are:

Ein ein ein hagiga
Bli bli bli bli uga
(Az) eifo eifo eifo eifo etc. (this part goes on for a while), eifo ha'uga
Repeat last line

It sounds kind of absurd in translation - all it amounts to is "There's no celebration without cake, so where's the cake?" - but it's a really fun and catchy tune, so I can see why she likes it.

Her babysitter introduced her to the YouTube clip of the song (linked above), and she loves that (but only asks the babysitter for it, never me or W), as well as singing it on her own while playing or jumping (excuse me: dancing).

They sang it in gan for the birthday party yesterday, and the kids were really into it. I just wish they had left it at playing the music and doing their own thing in gan without bringing in the gan's music lady, which is the Thing They Do on birthdays. I really don't like her and I think her schtick is totally inappropriate for the age of the kids in gan. She always blasts the music super loud and then has to shout to be heard over it. A couple of the kids got upset when she started to get going. And this is the oldest class! They use her for all the ages.

She has these very structured routines, replete with props, which is fine for kids age, say, 5 and up, but it's just so stupid for little kids, who can't follow directions that well - especially directions that keep changing: Put dots on your mushroom! (and no, that's not a metaphor or a euphemism, just a kind of random prop) Stand up and walk around your mushroom! No, only around your mushroom! Now sit down again and put more dots on your mushroom! Hold up the mushroom and stay still so your mother can get a picture!

It makes me wonder who it's supposed to be for. It's definitely not for the kids, so if it's supposed to be for the parents, then I for one would be more than happy to forgo it.

Another example: As part of her birthday repertoire she has this song about how great the Ima is and she intros it by saying your Ima took care of you from when you were a baby blah blah blah, and then (I can't imagine this happening in the U.S., though I could be wrong) asks the kids questions to which the answer is apparently always supposed to be Ima: Who feeds you? Who does your laundry? Who takes you to gan? (If you were wondering, in our case the answers to the last two are Abba, the vast majority of the time.) When one of the kids did answer Abba to one of the questions, she conceded that "Yes, there is Abba too." I mean, I know they import these people from Bnei Brak since it's a Shas gan and all, but the kids aren't Haredi and the whole thing was just kind of odd. And then she gives them each a fake rose that they're supposed to give to the Imas. Uh, thanks, just what I've always wanted. Of course, Rimonit wanted to keep hers...


Anonymous Chaya said...

My neighbor was trying to explain the awfulness of the gan "music lady," but you have really brought it to life for me. Nausea and all.

"Yes, there is Abba too." Quite.

October 21, 2010  
Blogger Shoshana Kordova said...

Chaya: It actually didn't occur to me until now that there could be whole platoons of these people! Scary thought...

October 21, 2010  
Blogger EVA SB said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

October 22, 2010  
Blogger Esther said...

Luckily our music lady was only called in to ruin end of term parties - I dreaded them.

But I do remember the Ema song. In one of the gans they would stick Mummy (ie me) in the middle of the room squeezed on to one of the tiny chairs with the brithday child on my lap. Then all the other children would flutter a veil-like canopy over us while throwing petals/confetti. Most of the mothers cried at this point: I did not.

October 22, 2010  
Blogger Shoshana Kordova said...

Funny you say that - I heard the other mother sniffling and was kind of taken aback. Had no idea this was such a common Israeli experience!

October 23, 2010  

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