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?