Why is the Army Sending Me To Sit On a Prostitution Committee?
This started as a reply to Esther's (of My Urban Kvetch) comment to my post about a sign depicting the word "Zona". Her comment reminded me of a story I feel warrants it's own post.
To my knowledge, the word zona in Hebrew means prostitute. Although the Artscroll Siddur/Chumash translates it as "inn keeper", I think they choose to go for the euphemism because, well, it's a prayer book. I haven't found any source to suggest it means grocer, and comes from the word mazon- food. I do have a funny story though involving the confusion of these two words.
Just over a year ago, a few months after arriving on my new base, my CO informed me that I would be participating in a vaadat tzuna. I didn't know the word tzuna and I only heard the "t" from the first word so I heard:" You will be participating in a vaadat zona." I was a little surprised to hear I was going to be sitting on a "prostitution committee". I mean, what exactly do they decide on? How does one get to make such important decisions relating to prostitution? What does the army have to do with prostitution? Isn't that more the police's jurisdiction, or perhaps the Finance Ministry's?
I went to the committee meeting. I was anxious to hear what we would be talking about. Not so surprisingly, we didn't discuss prostitution. We discussed food. The quality of food on our base, the selection, quantity, etc. We were asked a bunch of questions by some officers and asked to rate certain things on a scale of 1-5. I was the only one who seemed to like the food. Perhaps all those years of eating Yeshiva cafeteria food has developed my pallet for food made in large quantities.
A few hours later a friend of mine asked me how the committee was and I explained to him that it went fine and wasn't a big deal. I told him that I still didn't understand what the committee had to do with prostitution. He explained that it wasn't prostitution-"zona", it was nutrition-"tzuna". Suddenly it all made sense, and a new word was added to my lexicon.