Benji Lovitt
Because the Middle East is Funny
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10 observations on 10 years in Israel

Reflecting with characteristic humor on what it means to hit the decade milestone: "Once an oleh, still an oleh"

Today marks 10 years since I landed in this country. Here are the first 10 observations that popped into my head about this day….

10. No articles of clothing in my rotation were bought in this country. I don’t know if I should be proud or ashamed.

9. At no point did I consider translating this list into Hebrew. My Ulpan teachers would be so proud.

8. No tzabarim (native-born Israelis) will read this. Ech omrim “Anglo bubble”?

7. I still think this looks like “Pant Steak”.


6. I considered live-streaming a “flash mob”-type celebration at Misrad Haklita (Ministry of Absorption) with balloons, music, signs, and more. Because I’m still part American, I tried to get permission beforehand to avoid the possibility of getting eaten for breakfast by security. They never got back to me. Why start now, right?

5. I am celebrating at a cafe rather than a bar to mark the fact that since landing, I have imbibed 87 times as much cafe hafuch as alcohol. As it should be.

4. My first cell phone bills, before smartphones, were over 600 shekels per month. Were they bundled with my arnonah bill?

3. The “why you want to live here?” reaction that Israelis greet us new immigrants with? It disappears at some point. As if they’re waiting to see if you’re serious before deciding, “I guess you’re actually here for a while.” (They stop switching to English as well.)

2. Even if this list could have been better with more time, I have learned to embrace a well-placed “yiyeh b’seder” (it will be okay). Because it probably will be.

1. Some things can’t be overstated. Ten years is worth celebrating!

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Once an oleh, “Still an Oleh”
Click to see the freier gadol (big sucker), larger size

About the Author
Since making aliyah in 2006, Benji Lovitt has performed stand-up comedy and educational programs for groups including Jewish Federations, Chabads, synagogues, Masa Israel Journey, and Birthright Israel. His perspectives on aliyah and Israeli society have been featured on Israeli TV and radio and in publications such as USA Today, Time Magazine, the BBC, and more. Benji has worked as a cross-cultural trainer with groups including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Masa Israel and is a popular presenter on the Limmud International circuit. During 2014's Operation Protective Edge, his humorous observations on the war led to his being called in Israel "the only reason to go on Facebook.”