Saturday, October 1, 2016

Aliyah: 10 things I learned to appreciate about Israelis

I must be getting in the festive mood because I started having warm and fuzzy feelings about the Israeli people today*. It's not that I normally do not have these feelings but making fun of them and the never-ending subject matter that they provide for this blog is usually more entertaining … for me. 

1.       If you are having trouble with your math homework you can probably find a Russian city maintenance worker who can solve the problem in less than two minutes. Do not be deceived by the labourers' clothing and present occupation – they probably have a degree or two in Mathematics from The Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. Yes, that's a real place.
2.   Israelis do not get worked up over things related to imminent war. Sirens, drills, and the likes are simply part of life, and until there is a missile headed directly for them, they are not going to disrupt whatever they are doing. As the sirens went off last week as part of military practice run, I overheard a panicked elderly woman on the main street of Ra'anana ask in English where the nearest bomb shelter was, and no one seemed to know.  Please note that this does not apply in Sderot and surrounding area. They do not have the luxury of nonchalance.
3.   Israelis are more than happy to interrupt any conversation happening in English (and probably French now) yelling at the top of their lungs that you are talking too loud. You are not. What they really mean is that you are speaking English and they don't want to hear it.
4.       Rolling their eyes and making a "phst" sound can be a positive, negative or incredulous response to whatever you have just said to them. (In my most recent experience I asked a guy in the gym who had draped his towel over a machine I wanted to use if he was still using that machine since it did not appear so. When he gave me the rolly-eye phst thing I had to say in English – for effect – "What the hell is that? Yes? No? Maybe?"
5.       Everything is on the table for discussion. How much money you have; Politics; Salaries; Hemorrhoids. Anything that the rest of the Western World would not discuss in polite company, is front and center for Israelis.
6.       Every soldier is their soldier. They will give them lifts, do their laundry, invite them to their picnics on the beach, send them away with extra food – without ever asking their names because it really doesn't matter – they already "know" them.
7.   Israelis are surprisingly nice. My friend Yehuda insists this is true and he was disappointed that I did not include this is my previous post. He is generally correct, however, he has never met my next-door-neighbours.
8.       Even secular Jews are more religious than many Jews I know outside of Israel who consider themselves religious. Friday night dinner, kissing mezuzot, and only eating kosher food is quite common amongst the majority of secular Jews.
9.   Israelis are the farthest thing from helicopter parents, until it comes to sleepaway camp. Kids here have a degree of physical freedom that hasn’t existed in Canada since the 1960s. I know, I was there. We left the house in the morning on nice summer days and showed up again at dinner time. I used to spend the last half hour of every flight to Canada when my kids were younger explaining to them why they could not leave my side in the grocery store and why, at age 8, they could not go off for hours on their own. They didn't get it.

10.   Of course, for all the freedom kids have here, parents cannot understand why anyone would send their child to sleepaway camp for three weeks. They have a mental barrier at 10 days – I have a mental barrier at two months.
So as we move into the New Year, 5777, and the number of people outside of Israel who don't like Israelis seems to be increasingly daily, remember that everything you read about the Jewish State in the mainstream media isn't true. Some really good people live here.  
(*Note: I am completely aware that I am also an Israeli. I have the passport and voter registration cards to show it. In the following list I am referring to native-born Israelis who still live here – not the sad, deluded fools who left for a better life elsewhere.)