J.J. Goldberg

Readers' Questions Answered: Israel, Hebrew, Guns and Me

By J.J. Goldberg

  • Print
  • Share Share

Given the evidently growing interest in the details of my biography, I’d like to offer a quick rundown of the most frequently questioned data.

I lived in Israel for six years during the 1970s, serving for several years as an Israel and Zionism educational programs specialist at the World Zionist Organization in Jerusaledm and then settling on a kibbutz, where I served a term as secretary. For the last several decades I have generally spent about three weeks a year there, visiting friends and immediate family, meeting with government officials and ensuring that my children have ties with their family and the country and are comfortable in Hebrew.

I did not wear the IDF uniform. I served in the civil guard as part of the kitat konenut (ready response unit) at my kibbutz under the command of the Border Police in our region. I was the designated sharpshooter of the unlt and was given regular training sessions at the regional Border Police post, both in tactics and to maintain my shot with an M-1 Garrand, Uzi and M-16 assault rifle. As some readers have hae correctly asserted, I did not sit on guard duty at night. I walked. The job was to patrol the perimeter of the kibbutz at night. I also served a number of times as an armed guard on youth tours of the Sinai.

I have spoken fluent Hebrew since childhood. My Hebrew literature studies at McGill University included, among other things, “advanced Hebrew style and composition.” The course requirements included translating passages from the Hebrew Bible (both Deuteronomy/Kings and the Hebrew of Isaiah and the later prophets) into modern Hebrew (both Maariv tabloid and literary Hebrew) and vice versa – translating passages of modern Hebrew into various periods of biblical Hebrew as well as rabbinic Hebrew of the Mishnah period. I served for a period at kibbutz meetings providing simultaneous translation of the Hebrew proceedings for new immigrants and volunteers, until I was elected kibbutz secretary and could no longer perform that duty. (I am still called on to perform such functions from time to time.) My first job in journalism was as a reporter at a Hebrew-language newsweekly published for the Israeli expatriate community in Los Angeles, where I interviewed and wrote (and touch-typed) in Hebrew. I have published numerous Hebrew-English translations, including an authorized (and well-received) translation of a previously untranslated Agnon story.

I admit that my Hebrew is not what it used to be; I easily follow the weekly Torah readings in synagogue, but I have to follow in a book during the Haftarah readings, as my command of the later Hebrew from the prophetic period is not as fluent as it once was. Mea maxima culpa.

It was the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan who once said that “everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.”


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Personal Background



Find us on Facebook!
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.