According to Oxford’s English Dictionary: Synonyms for America are: the United States of America, the USA, the States, the land of the free, God’s own country.

According to my elderly neighbor, who is around 89-90 years old, he said to me, “over there you have the United States but here in Israel we have America.” I could not agree more, as a Jew that is precisely the point.

Why am I here, why do I live in Israel , and why do I like it so much? These are reoccurring questions I am asked almost daily, mostly by Israelis, since I landed.

To You reading this, we are all so silly if we think “the grass is greener” anywhere. I don’t believe it is. I only know about how I feel. The way I feel usually has to do firstly, with exactly that; how I feel inside and out. After all, it’s the little things that matter most to me. They are usually simple in nature and yet can be very much missed if one is not experiencing them. This is why I live in Israel.

I love to wake up here, where the sky is always blue and yes the sun is obviously always shining, (it is the Middle East afterall) most of the year. I lovvvvve knowing that my children are near enough to me that if I don’t see them for a week (which is rare), I can actually feel their presence, I sense them close to me, and not across many oceans. Good reasons so far?

I do love the little things; you know the ones that you can truly only find in Israel, may not be for everybody, but for me it’s working.

I will satisfy everyone and admit that their are NUMEROUS, ANNOYING things also, that I can actually laugh at. Then there are other things that are on the level of intolerable, but for me they are still not deal breakers. It took a short while for me to get used to people walking or bumping into me either on the street or in a market, as if I am invisible. Now I just stare at them and wait for them to get it together and sometimes I just put them in their place – someone has to. Also, the adjustment to conversations that sound like screaming matches, even though the characters involved say they love each other. And when it comes to the bank and the medical system, the number system or whatever the system they attempt, it does not work. In those places, the length of time wasted there is abnormal, I blame it on the pace at which they work (or do not) is the problem. I am positive that we can fix this issue!

Then there is the other side to the list of things. I really enjoy turning on the radio, particularly in the car, and listening to a selection of music in Hebrew, oldies and newbies, (although there are only a few stations.) It’s so great to have the option to listen at home to Israeli music on the t.v. or on their show-THE VOICE, and not just rely on a CD. For me the most significant detail is the fact that there is no place I could imagine the energy of Shabbat feeling more powerful than in Israel. In my opinion this is the country for that experience, it is only one day, every week, all year round. I relish in that vibrancy. By the way, also on the radio, while driving, if it’s Yom Shishi, the broadcasters all have the same opening line, “Shabbat Shalom.” And you do not need to be in Jerusalem for that vibe; although over there it is on another level. Over here, near Tel Aviv, or in the north, anywhere in between the country, everyone is on a similar schedule on Friday, and definitely have the same spirit going on around them. At least just about everyone. From the cute hippie at the juice stand, to the Arab Israeli at the fruit market, to the taxi driver, the delivery person from the grocery store that rode in the elevator with me the other morning and the teachers at schools and the bosses at work will all wish you a Shabbat Shalom- beginning on Yom Hamishi. I love that-period. And after those wishes are spread, when Yom Shishi does arrive, HERE you have a country like no other place, especially for a Jew, where you feel incredible serenity. (As ironic as it sounds….) And free.

I am not going to talk about the HUMMUS, just saying…

So yes, I think I will stay a while, a long while. I am curious to see how I will adjust to my home in Israel, (where we have our version of AMERICA) in the long run, particularly with ALL of those annoying things. However, I am more excited to have a life that is inclusive of my children near to me and watch everyone go into their next chapter simultaneously and, Bzrat ha Shem in good health. The rest of life is going to be the same challenges and trials and decisions that life is made of, no matter the country you live in. It is what it is, anywhere. The differences are the little things that matter most to you-that is what I have discovered. Once you have sorted that all out you are ahead of the game.

About the Author
Allyson Altit is from New York. She has worked in the travel industry for over 30 years as a leisure specialist. Her area of expertise is in European destinations and Israel. She has been involved with charity work for the Hadassah organization as well. In 2009 she graduated from Queens College majoring in Jewish studies. She has just completed writing her first novel...
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