I’m a lifelong Camp Ramah guy. I find the institution fascinating on a number of levels, including its use of Hebrew. Speaking informal Hebrew is a cool thing to strive for. But I got to admit, the idea has its limitations.
Take for example, camp plays. At Ramah Canada, and I assume the rest of the Ramahs, all plays are done in Hebrew. This means, that every play needs to be translated. I’m not against translating songs into Hebrew. In fact, usually, I’m the opposite. For example, I only know “Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat” in Hebrew, not English. Pretty cool fact.
But sometimes, the Hebrew just doesn’t work. Last summer, my campers put on a very loose adaptation of the movie Across the Universe. It was just a lame excuse to put on a Beatles play. But there was one song that we couldn’t use! In fact, one of my favorite songs of all time was unusable in the play, solely because of the Hebrew. Here is the confusion that would have occurred if we had translated “Hello, Goodbye” into Hebrew:
“Ani omer Shalom, v’at omeret Shalom.
Shalom, Shalom! Lama at amart shalom.
Listen Paul, what’s the problem? If you and her are both saying “shalom” then what exactly are you complaining about?
Even if you don’t understand Hebrew, watch this video and replace “Hello and “Goodbye” with their Hebrew translation “Shalom.” The song becomes completely absurd. Then again, the Beatles were on drugs.