I love living in Israel. Although for the most part I don’t actually feel like I’m living in the real McCoy Israel. Don’t worry; this isn’t a political statement. It’s more of a cultural one. Y’see I live in Efrat – very much a nice little Anglo-bubble. Which is fine…great in fact. Except for the times that I actually need my Hebrew.
Now, my language ability isn’t that bad, but with the subtleties I’m completely confused. Take garbionim for example. I can never figure it out. When I want a pair of tights I end up buying socks and when I’m looking for over-the-knee socks I get under-the-knee ones and once I even bought boys kids socks. Go figure.
Still, it’s all worth it right? Of course it is. Feeling like a totally incompetent nincompoop even though I have a Masters in Political Science (as my mother will still proudly tell you, two decades on), is, apparently, par for the course for “olim.” I came here at 25 and wasn’t about to work all that hard trying to perfect the language. So I didn’t. Instead, I chose to live in the Anglo-bubble, first in Jerusalem and then the Gush.
True, when my bank statement comes I have to turn it around a few times to see if it makes sense if I look at it from a different perspective. And one time we got an “invitation” from the gan which almost resulted in us showing up in blue-and-white for the Yom Hazikaron ceremony (as opposed to sending our kid clad in our country’s colours). And okay my 6 year old doesn’t seem to like the way I pronounce “Besayder.”
But so what, hey? It’s probably better I can’t read my bank statements anyway. Unfortunately the minus sign remains the same in both languages, but still, not understanding all the terms can help me go to that pleasant “peace” of Anglo-bubble denial. It can be a good thing I tell myself.
But that’s not really the point. The point is this: at the end of the day I believe it’s irrelevant whether I’m living in Ashkelon or Efrat, in an Anglo-bubble or out of one, because I still get the benefits of living and raising a family in Eretz Yisrael. I still leave the city enjoying the large Israeli flags blowing in the wind. I still ask the nurse at my local health center what time Shabbat comes in. I still am able to learn parsha with my son in gan on a Friday morning and for him to teach me why we actually spin dreidel (I didn’t know – or, if I did, I’d sure forgotten. When the Greeks tried to convert the Jews and they didn’t want to and instead they carried on learning Torah, when the Greeks found them, they put away their sefarim and took out dreidles, pretending they had been playing with them all along). And I’m still able to greet the Chief Rabbi of my community at the sports center with “Hey, howz it going?” clad in my little fun hat and Spiderman sweatshirt. I could hardly imagine doing these things in Edgware, UK.
True, there are Jewish schools in chu”l where kids learn parsha with their parents. But it’s different. They are Jewish schools. Here the schools aren’t Jewish per se, they’re Israeli and it happens to be that you’d be hard-pressed to find a school that doesn’t have Jews in it.
In addition, when you’re doing all this in Israel – no matter what you’re doing – it’s all connected to the land and indeed the language (that okay, continues to baffle me). We speak – or mutter – in the holy tongue. And we walk on the holy land. No matter how Anglo-bubbblefied one is, regardless of if one lives in Raanana or Rishlon L’Tzion, those facts can’t be ignored. From the makolet guy to the bank clerk, to the Petach Tikve brewery, and Yamit 2000, everyone’s doing, living, speaking and breathing through a direct commandment of the Torah. And even if I have a bunch of tights I have no interest in wearing and socks that are too small for me, I’m still benefitting as much as Dudu and Shiri from a country established by and for the Jewish people.
Now, if anyone does want a pair of black checkered tights…