Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Only in Israel, Only in Tzfat

I started this list last week to mark my 30th anniversary in Israel. I see that it's endless, so I'm going to publish it and invite anyone to add any "only in Israel" or "only in Tzfat" additions.

Only in Israel:
  • does your cupboard fill up with little honey pots in september as everyone and their mother gives you a "shai l'chag" (holiday gift)
  • does the mailman commiserate with you when a letter arrives from army reserves
  • does the municipality do its yearly tree-pruning right before the Succot holiday
  • does the clerk at the Interior Ministry greet you by name and call you "sweetie" when she finishes processing your documents and wishes you a good new year
  • do you take your dogs for a walk along the road below your house and come across some archaeologists in the middle of a dig -- before the next apt building is dug they want to make sure that there's nothing of archaeological interest (as per the law of Israel). The head archaeologist notes that they've found Mameluke-era artifacts from the 14th and 15th centuries, "but that's all." Subsequent walk found the site covered over and builders ready to start building. Guess that they don't have to worry about foundations.
  •  do perfect strangers stop you on the street to ask directions and ask you about your life story
  • does the army send a soldier home for a day to help his mother put up her succa
  • do unit commanders of the army provide their personal cell phone numbers to their soldiers' parents (my third soldier-child is about to finish his service and I've never used this service, but it's good to know that I can)
  • does a tattooed, mini-skirted woman standing stop you in the street to ask in a conspirable whisper "where's the mikve?" (or, for that matter, any woman)
  • does the bank teller ask you if you'd like him to set you up on a date
  • does wine go on sale before Purim, cleaning supplies go on sale before Pesach, dairy good go on sale before Shavouth, wine (again) before Rosh Hashana and candy before hanukah
  • (speaking of which....) do donuts appear for two months before Hanukah (and then disappear again for the next 10 months)
  • do Jews use tinsel for decorations in their Succas
  • would you not blink an eye when your 20-year-old brings his M16 home "for Shabbat" (ammo clips and all)
  • can your kids speak comfortably about the various characteristics of Jews from around the world -- Persian Jews have a reputation for being "tight,"  Moroccan Jews have a reputation for being loud, German Jews have a reputation for being obsessively neat and clean -- with no hint of prejudice, since they're friends (and, often, spouses) of Jews from all these different backgrounds
  • will you be blessed when you get in a cab, blessed when you get out of the cab, blessed when you buy something from a stall owner, blessed when you accidently dial the wrong phone number......
Only in Tzfat
  • does the librarian pull out a book that she's been keeping aside "just for you", even though you didn't put in a request for the book. She just thought that you'd like the book. 
  • does the mayor invite you to a private meeting in his office (with 6 other Anglos) to review his successes, hear your complaints and press his case for re-election.
  • will you find yourself waiting an extra few minutes to pay for your bakery goods while the store clerk puts on tefillin with the local Chabad guy during his morning rounds of the shopkeepers
  • do the kids roaming the streets at night wear Breslev Hassidic kippas
  • do the local candidates for election include more rabbis than not (or so it seems)
  • do the local candidates for election include NOT ONE WOMAN (that I've seen, anyway)
  • do absolutely all commercial enterprises close down between Friday afternoon and Saturday night
  • do the local Friday night services (in some shuls) include secular Jews, modern Orthodox Jews, traditional Jews, Hassidic Jews, soldiers and new Ethiopian immigrants who have just arrived in Israel within the week
  •  can you be 80% sure that if you are short on cash, or forget your wallet, the storeowner will tell you to "take it and bring me the money tomorrow"


Anonymous said...

will a stranger drop their baby on your lap while they pay the bus driver their fare.

Yehoshua said...

There IS a woman on the local council, for the first time: Etty Alkabetz