This week was Israel’s 70th Independence Day! Hooray!
I saw this video on Facebook and I think it’s a pretty good description of what it means to be Israeli. It’s a melting pot, it’s a salad, it’s a quilt.
In my new neighborhood, I think I’ve finally moved to Israel.
This is the opening to an program broadcast in Israel in the late 1970s to help people learn English. You might notice that it was British English back in those days!
“Nu, Itzik! Where are you?!”
This was the first thing I heard at 7am on my first morning in my new apartment. It sounded like the guy was standing outside my door. Was it locked?
“Yalla! Itzik, let’s go!”
I’m not Itzik. I’ll pretend that I didn’t hear anything and hide under the blanket. The cats are already freaked out and hiding under the bed.
Representative picture – this is neither me nor any of my cats
“Hey! Benny’s mom!”
A little old lady was sitting next to me at the bus stop and a car stopped in the middle of the street. The driver was calling out to this lady.
“Where are you headed?”
At first it was obvious that she didn’t quite know who this was and her only clue was that this was her son’s friend. “I’m on the way to the doctor.”
“Get in! I’ll take you!”
“Oh, no. That’s fine.” A car had come up behind the guy and waited while the exchange continued.
“No, no, no. I’d love to take you. Get in.” Another car came from the other direction.
It took her a moment to get to the other side of the street and get in the car, but everyone waited. And off they went.
In my old neighborhoods, there were a lot of foreigners, especially Americans. So going to the grocery store was always a culture shock experience of long lines, bagging your own groceries, cashiers shouting for change, and barely contained chaos. The people in line and in the store are just barely hanging on to their sanity to get through the experience.
“I only wanted to buy some bread and cheese! Why?! Why is it like this?”
In my new grocery store, it’s exactly the same: long lines, bagging my own groceries, cashiers shouting (for change, for greetings, for someone to switch her/him out), and Wild West chaos. But the people are different.
“Hey. I’m behind you. Ok?” I’m now in charge of holding this guy’s place.
“I’m back in one second.” Now the lady in front of me is off because she forgot something.
“Oh, where did you find that? I should get some too. I’m back in one second.”
We’re all in it together and no one is upset about anything.
Walking around my neighborhood, I see that it is a place where people actually live. They try to beautify their porches. They grow flowers and herbs. They vigorously clean every Friday. They make the best of what they have. Children play in the many parks. It’s a place where people know their neighbors – if not by name, then by sight.
Here’s a newly rejuvenated park that I found in my wanderings. It was early-ish, so no people around yet.