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


Margie said...

Sharona We have been here for more than 30 years and in some ways we are still olim hadashim. In other ways we are so Israeli that you can't distinguish us from the desert. It all depends on the time of day.
I laughed at "How long have you been here?" Obviously only one bus number stops there. Otherwise you would have been asked if kav arba had been yet. I always want to say that I suppose that thousands of kavei arba must have been there but my western training makes me answer politely with a smile, which lately has sometimes even been returned.

Things are changing.

Anonymous said...

The switch from England to Israel must have been quite drastic as any move can be on a family. I have not traveled to either location, but I sincerely hope to. You seemed like a well-balanced individual, so it is probably easy for you and your children than most.

Language exchanges, even in one's native tongue, can be filled with confusing phrases. You are obviously a deep thinker, but I would not worry too much about the interaction at the bus stop.

Home is where you can provide safety, shelter, and food for your family.