Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fridmanim, Friarim, and Dosim

Fridmanim, Friarim, and Dosim: 3 negative slang-stereotypes here in Israel. I am proud to say that I can be considered all three. Allow me to explain:
Fridmanim in plural, or Fridman in singular, is the mocking term for Ashkenazim in Israel. Its a play on the common Ashkenazic last name -"Friedman". It's not just a nickname though. It comes with specific connotations. Fridmanim are nebby. They are goody-goodys. They play it safe. They are, well... boring. Take Friday night for example. Fridmanim make chicken broth that we call "chicken soup". Sephardim make a thick and spicy lentil-meat soup. When you get engaged, Fridmanim stand around and drink Scotch while Sephardim get dressed up in these ornate costumes and paint orange tatoos on everone's hands. I think you get my point. But back to me... I think if you had to look up Fridman in the dictionary, it might just say Rena Landman. (I always was, by the way, one of those kids who believed that the word "gullible" wasn't in the dictionary). I am Miss play it safe, growing up I was always a goody goody, and now that I'm a student again, I know that nothings changed....

I additonally learned this week that Fridman men are thought to be "cold" people. You know, unfriendly, impolite. When I was told this, I had to reconcile this with my own theory until now: a man who is cold and impolite is because hi smom failed to train him properly. I never took these characteristics to be a cultural phenomenon. But these women were quite convincing, and explained that Sephardic men are just not like that. They are warm, polite, sensitive. I'll take their word for it, they probably know more Sephardic men than me. Let me see... there's Ariel Cohen, Sady Benzaquen, and Avi Bitton. I'm out. Yeah, I'd say they know more Sephardic men than me.

Anyway, Fridmanim are often Friarim too. Friarim (Friar in singular) are losers. Just plain losers. They are the people who get dumped on, taken advantage of. For example- At school, every teacher has 3 recess duties. I, the "new girl" has 4. So in fear of being known as a "Friar", I asked the vice principal (Peter Pan) what the policy is. She explained that because I assist in many classes, I can take a break during a regular class, and I can be on-duty for recess. Okay, sounds reasonable. So I'm stll a Friar, just a justifiable Friar.

This brings me to the last, Dosim. Dosim are dati Jews, pronounced "dosim", to mimic a yeshivish mispronunciation of the word datiim. The connotation here is shlumpy, sloppy people who keep weirdo laws. My English mentor, a woman in her forties, normally comes to school in jeans. The other day, she came in wearing a long shlumpy jean skirt, a big bulky sweater, and sneakers. As soon as anyone walked into the teachers' room and saw her they cried out in laughter, "What happened to you, all of a sudden you're a dosi?" She laughed too, and said that the give-away was the jean skirt with the sneakers. Now I'm sitting there in my jean skirt thinking, should I be offended here? Granted, mine was short and tailored, and I was wearing tights and shoes, but I'll be the first to admit that come summer, I might be found wearing sneakers with a jean skirt...So I asked them- "Am I a dosi?" They assured me-- no, no, you're "b'seder". That was a close one. Maybe they'll re-evaluate me in when the warm weather hits in a month. Wish me luck.

Because not all the teachers in my school grew up observant or are currently observant, there are many rumors about dosim that fly around that need to be confirmed or rejected. I am one of only a couple dosi teachers in the school who has the ability and privelage of doing so. So though its somewhat of a mocking term, at least I'm known as a reputable dosi with answers. Last week some teachers were asking whether its true if dosi brides wear wigs to their weddings. A couple of days ago, one of the teachers asked me if its true that the dosi men buy their wives a piece of jewelry before Pesach. If such a practice exists, they explained, then they were jealous. I said, Yeah, it exists, in Charedi-ville. But Charedi-ville is different than Dosi-ville. But thats for another time.

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