Life In Israel

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It seems that there are some aspects of living in Israel that we take for granted,, even though, to everyone else, they are mind-boggling.  I only became aware of this recently, when speaking to my father-in-law, who pointed out a few things that we had mentioned in passing, but were new to him.

Here, ten things that you didn’t know about Israel and its [Jewish] inhabitants:

1) There are security checks (including a bag check) whenever we walk into a building.   This happens so much that we don’t even think about it anymore.  (There are a few exceptions, but again, they are exceptions.)

2) DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING THAT WAS LEFT BY SOMEONE ELSE.  Including soda cans, plastic bags, backpacks, cell phones, laptops, or anything else.  The reason?  It could be an automatic bomb, or explosive materials.  Report it immediately to the police.

3) Carry your identity card with you everywhere, or you can get in big trouble.  Know your identity number by heart.

4) Don’t expect anything to happen until “after the holidays” – i.e., after Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot.  Except, that is, for the beginning of the school year (but not the college year).  Exceptions are people and businesses who work every day.

5) Your child is everyone’s child.  This works both ways – your child will be taken care of by everyone, worried about by everyone, and paid attention to by everyone.  However, you will be subject to a lot of unwanted advice and worrying from complete strangers.  This goes from when you are pregnant (sometimes before) until your child gets married (sometimes beyond).  It’s nice, though.  Especially when your child needs a snack, and the person next to you on the bus offers you some of theirs.  Because, of course, they have to help take care of your child.

6) If you let the other person get their way, you are a “fryer”.  Meaning, you don’t have enough guts to stand up for yourself.  One of the best ways to show that you are not a fryer is to yell.  The one who yells the loudest has the most guts.  (This is changing, though.  I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.)

7) Israelis are tough on the outside and soft on the inside.  They (we?) are also, at the same time, very friendly, and incredibly rude.  This is a good thing: You won’t have someone double-cross you, being your best friend one day and doing something nasty the next.  Whatever the other person thinks of you, you will know.  It’s actually very refreshing – no fake politeness.

8) We are one family.  That means that if I see that you are single, I will offer to set you up.  It also means that when rockets are falling on the south, random families will offer to host families from the south, so that they can have a semblance of normal living.

Furthermore, it means that if you live on the ground floor of your building, you will be asked (by the Home Front Command, via radio,) to leave your front door open, so that in an emergency, passersby can come into your bomb shelter room (where, of course, they will be offered drinks, cookies, and cake.  No, that was not part of the request to leave your door open.  It was just offered, because, well, Israelis are hospitable).

9) My cousin probably has a friend whose friend knows your brother.  Cool, right?

10) You meet people who say the following: “I am completely irrelegious, thank G-d.”  Huh?

2 thoughts on “Life In Israel

  1. I’ve heard that many Israelis qualify themselves as irreligious… I can definitely see why. I’m not even of Jewish ancestry, and the Holocaust is enough to demonstrate to me that there’s no God. Or at least, an uncaring or an incapable God. 😦


    • I am not sure that Israelis qualifying themselves as irreligious is connected to the Holocaust. For some, yes. But for others, no. There are many reasons why Israelis – and Jews in general – choose not to be religious. Some are better founded than others – it is for a different post. Some are dirty laundry, of which there is enough hung out already that I do not need to add to it. 😉

      I agree with you about the Holocaust. In fact, it’s kind of hard to disagree. My theory – and you can call it too simple – is like this:

      a) There are so many things that can go wrong in this world, but they go right instead. (Like the fact that most babies are born normal. That’s a pretty big miracle, considering the number of things that can go wrong – even with the evolutionary measures of only the strongest surviving.)

      b) If there is no G-d, we are in big trouble, because this world is so messed up, and if there is no G-d, then there is one to pray to, and no one who can fix it. And come on, everybody needs some kind of hope.

      c) If I can’t even understand Ariel Sharon’s motivations (because he didn’t explain them, and became a vegetable before he could put his ideas into action), how under the sun can I even try to understand G-d’s?

      d) Our lives are so fleeting – 80 years in a world where there are millions and billions – how can we see our views, and our feelings, as the make-or-break?

      e) Like I said, G-d had his reasons for the Holocaust. I can’t even begin to fathom them, nor do I really want to.

      f) And maybe, just maybe, we asked for it. Like Yitzchak says, Jewish life before the Holocaust was not all rosy – each sector was literally trying to out the other, sometimes going to the government (and we know how governments liked to punish). So, instead of letting us all kill each other, G-d did it for us – which brought us more together.
      I’m not saying that Jews are “together” nowadays, but it’s definitely a lot better than it was. (Read: We no longer get people put in jail because they are Orthodox or Reform. Nor do we atttempt to get them fined, hung, or the like. Yeah, it was that bad.)
      I don’t like Yitzchak’s theory, but I can’t deny its logic, either. Plus, I think that it makes light of too many deaths. Again, I can’t deny the logic in it, since “when the Angel of Death comes, he does not differentiate between guilty and innocent”.

      I guess what I’m trying to say, is that the Holocaust is a very ugly black dot in Jewish – and world – history. But it is only a dot.

      Also – you have to live for something, right? And the “something” that secular society offers doesn’t impress me one bit. So, I am religious. Granted, there are issues within the religious community. But I think the gains are more than the losses. And it sure is nice believing in a nice G-d, instead of one who punishes you forever if you sinned. 🙂


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