Saturday, August 1, 2009

Still New After 3 Years?

Forever an Olah?

We have been in Israel for nearly three years now. I have had a baby in this country and am raising a Hebrew speaker. My older kids use Israeli hand gestures and speak Hebrew slang. We make lasagna using cottage cheese. But do we feel Israeli?

Last week we were waiting at a bus stop. When we had been there for a short while, an Israeli lady sat near us under the shelter. The kids were talking to each other in Hebrew and I was talking to my youngest in (very bad, heavily accented) Hebrew too. After a while she said to me, “How long have you been here?”

Assuming she had picked up on our accents, I answered, “Nearly three years now.”

“No,” she said. “How long have you been here.” As she had stressed the last word, I assumed she meant our yeshuv. “We’ve lived here for nearly two years,” I answered.

“No,” she said again. “How long have you been here.” This time, as well as stressing the last word she pointed downwards to the ground. Finally, I understood. “Oh, sorry. We’ve been at the bus stop for ten minutes!”

The exchange, although a little silly/embarrassing/funny (delete as you see fit) got me thinking about the fact that I may have an ‘olah’ mentality. When will I actually feel so at home that if someone asks me the same question, I will cease to automatically assume they see me as a newcomer.

Sharona B