While in Israel, I needed two adapters for my American chargers. I knew what the adapter looked like but didn’t know the term in Hebrew. My cousin suggested that I might find the adapters in the local hardware store.
I easily located the store a couple blocks from my temporary Jerusalem home. I couldn’t translate the information on sign. The window display of light bulbs, hammers, and extension cords gave me clues that I’d found the store!
The customers waiting at the counter blocked the entrance. I waited semi-patiently until there was an opening in the crowd.
In my limited Hebrew, I asked the cashier if he spoke English.
Uh, oh. How do I ask for this now?
Visuals to the rescue!
On the counter, I saw an appliance that had a plug similar to my charger. Using my stilted Hebrew, I pointed to the plug. Slowly I explained that I have something from America that has a plug and want to use it in Israel. Where is something I can use with this plug?
“Sham, b’mageivot,” and he pointed in a general direction down the aisle.
I’m grateful the cashier pointed, because that was all I initially understood. As I walked down the aisle, I repeated his instructions. I knew that sham meant “there”. OK. I wracked my brain’s RAM and figured out that mageivot meant “drawers”. Progress!
Down the aisle I found drawers—lots of them—and all neatly labelled…in Hebrew!
My ability to read Hebrew is slower than my conversational ability. Methodically, I read some labels to figure out the system: From Location Name (such as Europe) to Israel. Finally, I found the drawer for America. Success! I pulled out two of these precious adapters. I clutched them as if they were my trophy for winning a marathon!
I learned a new word!