Facebook - The First Month

Today I'm celebrating the start of the second month of my life as a Facebooknik, a user of Facebook or a potential patient of Facebookitis. Exactly a month ago, or two days after our wedding on 2016-08-18 in Jerusalem, I decided to start experimenting with this popular social network I had stayed away from first and foremost as a convenient way to keep my parents in Yurihonjo, my sister and her husband in Tokyo, and my wife's mother in Moscow updated about our new married life.

I also told myself that this could be a good opportunity to observe from inside as a participant this platform for computer-mediated communication sociolinguistically. The following are some of my observations about Facebook in my first month. I also write them down here for the record as my opinion about it may change over time for better or worse. Being a pessimistic optimist, I'd like to start with disadvantages of Facebook as I see them as of now, whether expected or unexpected, and then finish with its advantages, again whether expected or unexpected.

My first observation is also my single greatest fear of starting to use Facebook that it's time-consuming, or to be more precise, time-stealing, and can be addictive. This fear of mine has turned out to be undeniably true, ironically because I'm a perfectionist, coupled with the fact that I'm still on vacation, so have less opportunities to socialize and argue with others offline. I think (and hope) that the moment the new academic year starts (at the beginning of November), I'll become too busy with my teaching and other professional obligations even to say that I'm busy, and I'll find myself spending far less time with Facebook, if at all.

The second observation concerns neither pro nor con of Facebook but rather its very nature as a platform for online communication. From my own experience of using email for the same purpose I've verified the validity of the so-called Dunbar's number, which can be summarized as follows: one can maintain relationships and keep up with only around 150 people at once. The number of people I remain in touch with privately by email has never exceeded 150. I've been trimming my email address book for this reason. And this will probably remain the same with Facebook if I decide to keep using it. Even if the number of my "friends" should exceed Dunbar's number, I wouldn't be able to follow the posts of all of them. Even now I can allow myself to constantly check the posts of only less than 30 people, including my wife, my mother, my sister and her husband, and my wife's mother, who are naturally the most important of all for me, for whom I started using Facebook in the first place. SO I simply can't help wondering what the so-called "power users" of Facebook with, let's say, more than 1,000 "friends", cope with such a number unless checking Facebook is the only thing they do in their life. ;-)

And the third, so far the last important, observation is an unexpected advantage for which I have to thank Facebook. It has enabled me to find and reconnect myself with quite a few long lost friends and acquaintances in the four corners of the world in Hebrew, Yiddish, Esperanto, Russian, Japanese, and even English ;-), and get acquainted with new interesting fellow Facebookniks I couldn't have met otherwise.

I'd like to summarize this reflection-shmeflection of mine on Facebook as a means of computer-mediated communication in my first month of its use by saying that after everything is said and done, it seems to do more good than harm, at least to me, but on condition that I limit my use of Facebook to the required minimum. Of course, this condition is easier said than done for a person who has already started to show the sign of Facebookitis. ;-) But with the help of my highly self-disciplined ;-) wife I'll get over this potential problem, too.


Research-cum-Honeymoon Trip to Moscow and Tbilisi

My wife, Lena, and I returned from a 20-day research-cum-honeymoon trip to Moscow and Tbilisi this Tuesday very tired but very satisfied. Now I've realized that unlike the research part of our trip, for which I've sent very clearly defined two purposes - checking Russian books on lexicography and onomastics at the Russian State Library in Moscow and participating in Euralex 2016 in Tbilisi - we haven't thought enough about the honeymoon part, taking it for granted.

Upon our return to Jerusalem I've also asked my haredi mentor about what classical and contemporary Jewish authorities say about this custom. First of all, "honeymoon" is not part of Jewish tradition though many newly wed Jewish couples also go on a honeymoon trip. What is probably the closest to it in Jewish tradition is what may be called "honeyyear" (the term I invent ad hoc), that is, the first year after the wedding. Just "by chance" this weekly portion of the Torah says, "When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business; but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer his wife whom he has taken." (Deuteronomy 24:5) [emphasis mine - TS]

Now I'm asking myself how successful I have been in these 20 days, which constitutes only a tiny part of our first year after marriage, in cheering my wife. The first thing that comes to my mind in reply to this question of my own is that I made her cry, even in public, at least once. We also had several quarrels. But we had a happy time together after all. We felt (and still feel) that we are bashert as we are so compatible with each other in so many areas.

I've just asked my wife what was the happiest moment for her was during our trip. Her answer is when we were invited to her friend's wedding in the suburbs of Moscow and I played with children of some of the guests. I recall that since I was a child myself, I've been very popular among children. I'm at my best either when I dance Ashkenazic folk dance or when I play with children as I can become natural. The most unforgettable person of all those I've met during this trip is a small girl who became so attached to me after playing with me for a while in Russian that she refused to say goodbye to me when the time came. Our last conversation in Russian was minimalistic, but her answer was so eloquent. I told her "Пока" ('Bye for now'), to which she replied "Не 'пока'" ('No 'goodby for now'')! My wife also says that I lookied happier when I played with these children than any other moment during this trip.

So what can I learn from this? The best way to make her happy seems to make myself happy first. I'll keep looking for various ways (except for one she desparately wants but I simply don't want to) to attain this goal in our first year of marriage (and beyond).


My Own Jewish Wedding

I didn't believe that this day would come, but I finally got married with my basherte last night, August 18, which falls on tu be'av, or the day of love, in Jewish calendar! Our wedding was conducted in a traditional Ashkenazic style at the pictureque Israel Museum in Jerusalem and was attended by a rather small circle of closest relatives, mentors, friends, colleagues, and (ex-)teachers. As our guests speak at least six different mother tongues, we had to prepare an invitation to our wedding as well as its program in these six languages (English, Hebrew, Yiddish, Esperanto, Russian, and Japanese).

I met Lena, my wife from Moscow, last summer in Jerusalem. We worked together intensively for about one month on Hebrew-Yiddish contact linguistics. After this joint work ended, we decided to start our romantic relationship. It was on August 18 last year, so the date of our wedding was actually our first anniversary. One day after the official start of our romantic relationship, it became a long distance relationship as she had to leave Jerusalem for her native Moscow, then for Paris, where she studied this academic year. Until she finally moved to Jerusalem in late June, I visited her in Paris five times, she visited me in Jerusalem twice, and we visited Moscow together twice. Now we finally live together in Jerusalem, speaking mostly in Yiddish with each other.

In addition to the ceremony itself, the most unforgettable thing at this wedding of ours was traditional Ashkenazic dance accompanyied by traditional klezmer music played by Oydivision, which is probably the only authentic klezmer music band in Israel. I participated in all the three workshops on traditional Ashkenazic dance taught by Prof. Walter Zev Feldman, one of the best traditional Ashkenazic dancers in the whole world, in 2008, 2009 and 2010 in Jerusalem. When I saw him dance for the first time, I told myself that I would like to dance this way in my own Jewish wedding. It took me eight years since then, but I could finally realize my dream by dancing with my wife, then solo. At least the improvisational style of this traditional Ashkenazic dance is characterized by minimalism in sharp contrast with what I consider vulgar dance we see in many Jewish weddings in Israel. "Our" dance seems deceivingly simple, but it's very difficult to imitate. It took me years to learn to dance as I dance now, but I'm still light years behind my dance teacher.

So what's next after the wedding? We are expected to have the so-called "Seven Blessings" at the house of my mentor, Rabbi Yehoshua Eichenstein, who conducted our wedding ceremony, and at Chorev, the shul in Jerusalem where I've been davening regularly, though only on Sabbaths and holidays since ten years ago. We are also planning to meet my sister and her husband, who came all the way from Tokyo, my wife's mother from Moscow, and some of the other guests from abroad. Next Thursday, August 25, we are going on a kind of honeymoon trip, which is actually a research trip. The first destination is my wife's native Moscow, where I'm planning to work at the Russian State Library, looking for and checking those books on lexicography and onomastics, two of my main research interests, that are not found in Israeli university libraries. And the second destination is Tbilisi, where we will participate, though only passively, in Euralex 2016.


End of a Long Distance Relationship

Since I updated this blog of mine more than two months ago, I was busy preparing for one significant change in my life and dealing with its consequences. My ten-month-old long distance relationship (henceforth LDR) finally came to an end about 20 days ago, fortunately not because the relationship itself came to an end, but simply because it has stopped being long distance. Now my S/O lives in the same city where I live, and I can meet her every day.

When we started our LDR, we simply didn't know what to do and wondered if we could survive it as its obstacles seemed formidable. The first thing we did was to read together one of the guides to LDR available in the book market (in our case The Long-Distance Relationship Survival Guide by Chris Bell & Kate Brauer-Bell) and start checking a peer support website called LDR Magazine. We've tried to learn what our predecessors had learned from their own LDR experiences and shared with newcomers to this seeming tribulation. We've learned a lot from the book and the website, but we've learned even more from our own LDR experience. So I've decided to share it as our two cents with others who might follow though I don't think such people would check such an obscure blog-shmog entry.

But before doing so, let me quote those passages from the above mentioned book that have inspired us and given hope and strength to us in our then unknown future:

  • If your relationship is strong enough to make it through a period of long-distance, chances are it's strong enough to make it through a lot more.
  • Happily married, we realize we might not have gotten to this point together had we not faced the challenges of a long-distance relationship.
  • The nineteen months we spent dating long-distance taught us much more about relationships than we ever could have learned had we only dated in the same city. The skills we built in those months have made a lasting, positive impact on the relationship we have today. Long-distance dating was our secret to marriage success!
  • Effective communication is undoubtedly one of the fundamental building blocks of successful long-distance relationships. Knowing how to communicate your emotional needs, relationship fears, and innermost dreams is an important skill for anyone involved in a dating relationship.
  • Strong communication builds a bond and gives long-distance couples something to look forward to and enjoy between face-to-face meetings.
  • If you experience feelings of insecurity or dissatisfaction with your relationship, you owe it to your partner to express those feelings calmly and in the spirit of problem solving. Likewise, if your partner expresses dissatisfaction or insecurity to you, you owe it to the relationship to hear him or her out without getting defensive or placing blame.
  • In long-distance dating situations, commitment is particularly critical to relationship success, as it is the foundation for establishing effective time management. And without effective time management, the effort required to sustain a long-distance relationship can seem insurmountable.
  • The time you get to spend in the same place can be extremely precious, and the way you spend that time is extremely important. However, "quality time" doesn't necessarily equate to doing anything special - some of the best quality time for couples is just spent in each other's company, looking into one another's eyes and talking about the things that matter most. And in long-distance dating, as in any dating relationship, the amount of time together is as important, if not more important, than the purposeful "quality" of that time. That's because a genuine, loving relationship with lasting potential will reveal itself in the ordinary moments of daily living.
  • The decision to move for the sake of a relationship - to pick up your life, leave family and friends behind, and head to a new city - is a bold and daring act of love. It also requires great commitment. By the very act of moving, one partner is making a commitment to the other. That's why it's so important to make sure both partners have the same level of commitment before taking that life-changing step.

And here is a partial list of things we've done together and still consider extremely important to survive our ten-month-old LDR:

  • To plan in a rather early stage of the LDR when and how to stop in so that one of us may move to the city where the other lives (uncertainly about (the present and especially) the future is one of the worst enemies of any LDR)
  • To communicate daily by email and Skype (chat), sharing emotions and thoughts about each other and ourselves, including doubts and fears (we've exchanged about 1,000 email messages a month)
  • To have an intercontinental meeting about once a month (and spend one week or so together every time) in one of the cities where we lived separately and cherish preparations, whether financial, physical or emotional, for each face-to-face meeting and the meetings themselves
  • To study books about relationships together by setting aside a certain amount of time during daily Skype chats (the best books we've read and learned from together include 1000 Questions for Couples, 201 Great Discussion Questions for Couples in Long Distance Relationships, Essential Manners for Couples, Mars and Venus on a Date, and Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work in alphabetical order, of course, in addition to the above mentioned survival guide)
  • To try to enjoy living alone away from each other, for example, by concentrating on work, doing physical exercises, meeting local friends

We wish good luck to every couple in an LDR and hope the time will also come to you soon when you'll be able to share your LDR experience with others.


Three Unforgettable First Time in Life Experiences during This Passover Vacation

During this Passover vacation I had three unforgettable first time in life experiences. Even one such event is something that doesn't happen every Monday and Thursday, so experiencing three such events in one single week is a rarity, especially if all of them concern myself, though two of them indirectly.

The first first time in life experience during this vacation was witnessing the cultimanition of a process called aliya, or immigration to Israel, of someone very close to me. I had the privilege of accompanying this whole process, sometimes by giving advice from my own experience of making aliya. The first stage in the process was the most difficult one in retrospect - to find all the necessary official documents testifying her Jewishness in a country whose former regime tried to eradicate or at least oblitarate Jewishness. But after a long labor that didn't seem to come to its end she succeeded to prove her Jewishness. The second stage - to apply for an immigrant visa at the embassy of Israel in the capital of that country - was far simpler and quicker than she had feared. And the third and last one - to actually come to and enter Israel as a new immigrant - was even simpler and quicker, including the bureaucratic procedure at Ben-Gurion Airport.

It was so symbolic that she made aliya one day before the start of the Passover, that is, this aliya was a kind of Exodus for her. It was even more symbolic that the first seder she attended (together with me) for the first time after her aliya was also her first seder in her entire life! Even more touching was the fact that her mother, who made a one-week visit here during this Passover, joined us and celebrated seder for the first time in her life, too! I don't know how they felt during and after their first seder in life, but when I look back and think about my first experience in 1989, I'm sure there will come a day years later when they'll also look back and remember this first time in life experience of theirs as their precious experience.

And the third event directly concerned me (and still keeps exciting me). I never believed I would ever experience this in this reincarnation of mine. It's a kind of rite of passage leading to another, more important, rite of passage, both of which require a collaborator, so to speak. Especially because it was done in a traditional Jewish, or to be more precise, Ashkenazi, manner and also joined by my closest frum Jewish friends as well as my two Jewish spiritual mentors, I felt and still feel for the first time that the collective Jewish past has become a full-fledged part of my individual Jewish present.


Three Types of Health for a Modern Man

I'm starting to realize gradually and belatedly that physical health alone is not enough for a modern man in order to lead a healthy life but I haven't invested enough thought and practice in two other, no less important types of health for a modern man - mental health and financial health. Though physical health may be the foundation for the other two types of health, the three influence each other.

Compared to physical health, for which I've been investing for years by doing three types of physical exercises (bodyweight strength training for muscle strength, running and swimming for cardiovascular endurance, and stretching and yoga for flexibility), my mental health fares far less well. The first "exercise" I started for it is the study of Musar, which is commonly translated as 'Jewish ethics' but is actually theoretical study of human character traits and its practical application to improve your negative character traits. A few years ago I was invited to start participating in a weekly Musar lecture by one of the few haredi rabbis in Jerusalem engaged in Musar, who in the meanwhile has even become my spiritual mentor.

Ironically, the more Musar I have studied, the more I've come to suffer mentally, which is not supposed to be what Musar is meant to do. This is because the study of Musar has made me become far more sensitive to verbal and nonverbal behaviors of other people, especially insensitive ones. Unfortunately, insensitive behaviors are the norm rather than exceptions in Israeli society. Last year my mental health deteriorated so seriously that I started to stop functioning normally in the interpersonal relationship, until I had to receive psychological counseling for half a year. One of its positive outcomes was something I hadn't expected at all, and fortunately, it has been helping me maitain my mental health.

Since I was a child, I was fully aware of my physical health, paradoxically because I was very small and poor at sports. It's only rather recently that I've started to think about my financial health, which was quite good in my childhood thanks to my parents and has remained alright since then. But I find myself now in a blessed situation to have to think about the financial health not only of my own but also beyond this minimal family unit in both short and long terms.

I've learned many important lessons of life from my parents, but I'm sorry financial planning isn't one of them. Again ironically, since my parents grew up in severe poverty, they didn't want me and my sister to suffer from the same problem. As a result they rather pampered us financially and never taught us the important lesson of financial health they themselves had learned on their own flesh on their way out of poverty. Now I'm studying what I should have started to learn or be taught years ago in order to ensure lasting financial health.


Esperanto vs. Yiddish as a/the Home Language

Being an Esperantist, though my interest in the language is more theoretical than practical, I used to consider the use of Esperanto as a/the home language one of the most challenging linguistic experiments. Paradoxically, the last, therefore the most basic, domain of use that persists when a language is dying, is the most difficult one to start when the language in question has no native speakers, that is, among non-native speakers.

When I participated in the annual Yiddish-speaking summer camp twice in the past, I met several young American couples of non-natives speakers of Yiddish who decided to use it as their home language. Back then I didn't think about this unique phenomenon, simply dismissing it as a rather fanatic thing. In Israel I've met a few similar couples but with a fundamental difference - either the husband or the wife is a native speaker of Yiddish.

Rather recently I got acquainted here for the first time with a couple of non-native speakers of Yiddish deciding to start a Yiddish-speaking family. I had chances to shmooze with them at length about this joint project of theirs. It was only then that I started to understand for the first time how difficult the project must be - even more difficult than the use of Esperanto as a/the home language - for a couple of reasons.

The first possible obstacle for such couples is pragmatics. Unlike Esperanto, whose pragmatics is determined by the native languages of its speakers with no single norm, Yiddish has its own unique pragmatics. One may be able to master its grammar and lexicon, but since one can't generally learn it in its still natural environment unless one has become a haredi, the pragmatics of Yiddish by its non-native speakers can be quite different from that of its native speakers.

The second possible obstacle is culture. One may be able to say that Esperanto already has its own culture, but I don't think it's culture at a different, less fundamental, level. Speaking Yiddish naturally requires far higher level of cultural literacy than speaking Esperanto naturally. The above mentioned couple I've met here in Israel has also had to learn the culture of Yiddish, both religious and secular.

I've asked this couple to keep me posted about their project. I've already decided to find and contact more non-native couples using Yiddish as their home language among fellow Jews as well as non-Jews (I know one such couple!) and compare this phenomenon with its counterpart in Esperanto. Adding similar experiments in other languages to this comparative study might be rewarding, but unfortunately, I'm not aware of such experiments first-hand. Perhaps, in Irish, Catalan, and some other previously oppressed languages in Europe, for example.


Muscle Strength and Strength Training

I returned yesterday from my thus far annual half-month visit to Japan. One of the pleasures of visiting it is visiting its big bookstores, at lease in big cities - the pleasure totally lacking unfortunately in Israel only with painfully miserable bookstores. I like to stumble upon new books on those topics I never thought about.

The topics that caught my attention this time while I was wondering in my favorite bookstores in Kobe, where I'm based every time I visit Japan, are muscle strengh and strengh training. I stumbled upon (and bought) a couple of books about the correlation between excellence in work and muscle strength. This in turn led me to other books explaining medically the importance of muscle strength, including core stability, for our external and internal health and fitness, especially after the age of 40, when we start losing muscles with the average annual rate of 1% unless we train them.

The first physical exercise I started in my late teens and still continue until today on a regular basis is running. Until I started swimming, another aerobic exercise, several years ago, my focus in physical fitness was exclusively on (cardiovascular) endurance. Running also has developed the muscles of my lower body, but my upper body remained thin. Having seen that swimming could also develop the muscles of my upper body, I started to train my muscles, especially those I can't train through running and swimming, though not so systematically, realizing that muscle strength is far more important than endurance.

Having read about and been convinced of the importance of muscle strength, I've already become not only a more systematic practioner of strengh training - my favorite method of strengh training is the so-called bodyweight strengh training as I can do it anywhere with no special equipment - but also its enthusiastic preacher. My parents, my sister and her husband, none of whom has ever trained their muscles systematically, have already received illustrated guides to bodyweight training as gifts from me. My "poor" S/O has been forced to start receiving my private instruction.

So why is muscle strength so important in a nutshell? As far as I understand from the books I've read, including those by someone who is considered to be the highest authority on muscle physiology, one of the reasons for its importance is that it prevents us from falling accidentally and find ourselves bed-ridden in the last years of our life. On the one hand, we have to keep training our muscles regularly to maitain their strength, but on the other hand, we seem to be able to start developing our muscles at any age. Muscle training seems to be a very worthwhile investment.

Another benefit of muscle strength is that it makes you younger not only externally but also internally. This realization has made me observe other people around me from a totally new perspective. Some people look younger for their age, while others look older, and what makes this difference? Actually, their body shape that is determined by their muscle strength! One can easily tell physically lazy men by their flat chest and sagging buttocks.

There seem to be enough people in Israel who run and/or swim regularly, but it doesn't seem to me that there are enough people here who also train their muscles regularly. It's so sad to see so many old people here who are suffering from their poor physical fitness for a very simple reason - their negligance to invest in their muscles. Just like healthy finance, muscle strength is the result of an informed intellectual decision, and not a chance.

I'll continue preaching this gospel beyong the small circle of my immediate family. And the best means for this end is to be physically fit in muscle strength myself. I'll also stress how convenient bodyweight strength training, it's enough to spend 5-10 minutes each time three times a week or so, and the best time to start muscle training (or anything important in this respect) is now.

PS: One of the best free online resources on bodyweight strength training is Global Bodyweight Training. And my favorite offline reference is Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy.


How to Spend the First Hours in the Morning Every Weekday

Partly because both of my parents keep early hours, and mostly because my life experience has shown me the benefits of getting up early in the morning, I've also become an early riser. I've even come to a conclusion that how to spend the first hours in the morning every weekday has a decisive impact not only on the rest of the day but also on our life in general, or to be more specific, on what we accomplish in our life.

After a number of trials and errors I've also come to a conclusion that I need three hours before I start my daily work. Since I start working at home or go out to commute to my workplace at eight, I get up at five on weekday mornings. I usually go to bed at eleven at night, so I sleep six hours on weekdays (but on Sabbaths and Jewish holidays I sleep more than nine hours, sometimes even 12 or 15 hours!).

This week I stumbled upon an amazing book entitled The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. Though its core message wasn't new to me, its practical tips and the reasons for the benefits of getting up early in the morning have assured me that I've been doing the right thing.

Probably the most useful practical tip of this book is what to do after getting up early in the morning. The author proposes six practices he abbreviated as S.A.V.E.R.S., or S for silence, including mediation, prayer, reflection, deep breathing, and gratitude, A for affirmations, V for visualization, E for exercise, R for reading, and S for scribing, with possible changes in the order.

My daily morning routine, at least on an ideal weekday, between five and eight has been reading, silence in the form of davening, and exercise in the form of running in this specific order for the past ten years or so. I start every new day with the study of musar, or Jewish ethics, followed by the reading of one of the self-help books waiting for me.

Having read about the effects of affirmations and visualization as part of the so-called "law of attraction", I'm now thinking about how and when to integrate them into my daily morning routine.

The author of the above mentioned book explains why it's important to wake up early in the morning "with passion and purpose", for example, as follows:

When you delay waking up until you have to - meaning you wait until the last possible moment to get out of bed and start your day - consider that what you're actually doing is resisting your life. Every time you hit the snooze button, you're in a state of resistance to your day, to your life, and to waking up and creating the life you say you want.
When you wake up each day with passion and purpose, you join the small percentage of high achievers who are living their dreams. Most importantly, you will be happy. By simply changing your approach to waking up in the morning, you will literally change everything.
By learning how to consciously set our intention to wake up each morning with a genuine desire - even enthusiasm - to do so, we can change our entire lives.
At least since last August when I had some significant turning point in my life, I've been feeling I can't wait to start each new day. And this little book has given me a convincing rationale for keeping and even intensifying this amazing feeling.


Unforgettable Private Trip to Moscow

Having spent six days in Moscow last week between my lessons in the university, I returned to Israel this Sunday, very excited at the successful meetings I had there. Without doubt this will remain in my memory as one of the most unforgettable trips I've ever made in my entire life. I visited Moscow for the first (and last) time in the summer of 2005 to participate in the conference of the European Association for Jewish Studied held there. Of course, I didn't have the slightest idea back then that there would come a day when I would revisit the city this way.

I had four very important private meetings there, and fortunately, I can say that all of them were successful. The most exciting was the one with my S/O in LDR in her native city. I'm not eloquent enough to describe this excitement of mine. Two others concerned both of us, and our initial worries about them turned out to be baseless. I am full of gratitude to НЛ for accepting me so warmly in her family and to two rabbis in the central synagogue of Moscow for their enormous help to us. And the fourth one was with my two close Jewish friends there. We had such a good time together at a local kosher Jewish restaurant that we said good-by to each other, promising to meet again in Moscow, Jerusalem, etc.

In addition to these four private meetings I was looking forward to visiting bookstores in Moscow, which is the third after Tokyo and Osaka in my personal ranking of cities in terms of the quantity and quality of their bookstores. Being a student of lexicography, I was overjoyed at the sight of so many dictionaries there. I encountered two new important monolingual dictionaries of Russian. The first, which is a single-volume dictionary for the general public and can be suitable even for learners of Russian as a foreign language, is Большой универсальный словарь русского языка (info by the publisher). And the second, which is an academic dictionary mainly for specialists, is Активный словарь русского языка (info about its prospectus by the publisher, info about its first volume by the publisher, info about its second volume by the publisher).

In addition to excitement and joy, this unforgettable private trip to Moscow has also brought me strong motivation to work harder to improve my Russian both for personal communication with certain dear people and for professional purposes in lexicography (and probably other areas of linguistics, too). But ironically, in spite of my newly kindled interest in (and even love for) Russian I spent most of my time in Moscow, speaking Yiddish, which is a story in itself and requires a separate blog entry.