Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sixty things I love about Israel

Excerpted from "Sixty things I love about Israel," by Benji Lovitt, found on 60 Bloggers (and if you like these, why not join us this December on our TBE Israel Adventure?)

1. I love that the women are not only hotter than Mitzpe Ramon in July but that they also have a Passover Seder. (Much like the fourth dimension, my human brain is incapable of processing this.)

2. I love the outdoor cafes/kiosks on Rothschild and that Israelis universally agree that Starbucks (the altar to which American consumers bow their heads and pray) stinks.

3. I love that I don’t look at the people I meet as French, Russians, or Australians, but rather as Israelis who are trying to make it here just like I am.

4. I love my Ulpan teacher from Kitah Bet, Dafna, who spoke to us like we were four so we’d understand her.

5. I love that falafel is a healthy snack (OK, maybe I just love choosing to believe the American myth while I scarf it down forty-seven times a week.)

6. I love that people I know from all over the place are always visiting this place, the center of the Jewish world.

7. I love that I can tell a joke about Rosh Hashana at a comedy club here and know that it will be understood by everyone in the audience.

8. I love wearing jeans to virtually any social event.

9. I love the kumkum and the utter shock on every Israeli’s face when they ask “but how do you make coffee in America???” in the same manner that teenagers ask how we survived before cell phones. (Since it takes an hour for my dud shemesh (water heater) to heat up during the winter, next December I plan to shower in the kumkum for the next 3 months.)

10. I love that it’s 12:48 AM, tomorrow is a work day, and Cafe Aroma is still hopping. HOW DO THESE ISRAELI PEOPLE DO IT???

11. I love expanding my already unrivaled vocabulary of ridiculous Hebrew and Arabic slang and that Israelis think I’m fluent because I can say I have to go the bathroom 47 different ways.

13. I love Friday in Tel Aviv.

14. I love English words which are directly absorbed into the Hebrew language. “Slicha, yesh li peepee!”

15. I love how warm and proud of each new immigrant the former olim are and how so many treated me to an “aliyah beer” or dinner when I arrived.

16. I love how cheesy American and international pop music is welcomed with open arms here. For this reason, someone hypothetically can sit in the barber’s chair, get a proverbial spring in his step when “Backstreet’s Back” comes on, look around, and realize that nobody finds it the least bit weird that said song is being played. This is all hypothetical of course. It never happened.

17. I love that I went to World AIDS Day and had my AIDS awareness raised by two macho sperm kicking a soccer ball.

18. I love that people are so unbelievably hospitable to the degree that my American brain cannot understand. Like when 45,000 people invited me to their Passover Seder, including a co-worker who I had only known for a few weeks.

19. I love Adloyada in Holon, the biggest Purim parade in the country which feels like the Macy’s Day Parade on Thanksgiving.

20. I love the feeling of unity and Jewish peoplehood on Yom Hazikaron when people stop whatever they’re doing to commemorate fallen soldiers during t’kasim (ceremonies) and during the siren. Even though it looks like aliens have invaded earth and frozen the human race.

21. I love the ridiculous English t-shirts that people wear in this country, usually with no inkling of what they even say or mean.

22. I love that Hebrew is both an ancient and brand new language with words whose roots can be traced as far as the Torah (b’reishit, whose shoresh is “rosh” or “head”/”beginning) and as recently as NOW (“l’sames”, “to send an SMS”).

23. I love the food here and how people eat such a healthy diet, such as my co-worker who ate a whole pepper in her hand as if it were an apple.24. I love the almost meaningless phrase of “yiyeh b’seder” which I continuously mock for its universalness even as I say it myself to make myself feel better.

47. I love how when you walk into an Israeli’s home, approximately 1.34 seconds elapse before they offer you a hot drink. You could enter their apartment with a clown suit and a machete, the first thing they’d say? “Some-theeng to dreenk?”

48. I love seeing my Israeli friends in the days after Shabbat because they feed me. Not just with anything but with the 468 Tupperwares of delicious food that their mothers have sent them home with after the weekend. Where do these mothers find the time??? You leave them alone for 5 minutes on a Friday, when you come back, they’ve whipped up a 7 course meal for the Western Galilee.

49. I love that I saw “Borat” in Israel where everyone was dying laughing from all the hilarious Hebrew. You think that happened in the Cherry Hill, New Jersey multiplex? (Does Cherry Hill have a multiplex?)

50. I love learning some random phrase in Ulpan or in the shetach (”the field”) and then picking it up in conversation days later to my complete delight. This leads to awkward exchanges where I interrupt two people by suddenly screaming “COMMON DENOMINATOR! COMMON DENOMINATOR!”

51. I love how the sample credit card in advertisements doesn’t have a name like John Doe or Shmuel Ben-Tov but instead “Israel Israeli.”

52. I love how the band at the first soccer game I attended played not “We Will Rock You”, but “Heveinu Shalom Aleichem.” What is this, Rivka’s Bas-Misvah?

53. I love how my former roommate tried to teach me how to clean by taking the toilet brush, cleaning the toilet, and then using the same toilet brush to CLEAN THE SINK. And she thought I was the idiot. (Ok, just kidding. I didn’t really love that.)

54. I love when an Asian person stops me to ask where the #5 picks up and we converse in Hebrew.

55. I love how someone stood up and blew the shofar on an El Al flight last September. If that happened on an American airline, this would lead to confused passengers tackling him and the ADL issuing a press release.

56. I love that McDonalds is kosher for Passover.

57. I love that on Israeli Survivor, the contestants are often far less cutthroat than their American counterparts, schmoozing and laughing like….well, Israelis.

58. I love how on Yom Kippur, there are almost zero cars on the road.

59. I love that living here makes me feel like I am contributing to the building of a country.

60. I love that I’ve had this once-in-a-lifetime experience and that it’s not over yet.

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