Friday, April 17, 2009

Nothing But Teeth

As I walked into shul (synagogue, whatever) for the start of the last two days of Pesach (Passover), I found myself immediately confronted with the need to give a running report on my time in Israel. With each, "How is Israel?" I got a sense that everyone was expecting only the rosiest of pictures. "Well, you know, it has certain problems..." wasn't a response that was going to be well-received by the masses. No one wants to hear that their fantasy land is just a fantasy, but that's the reality of the Not-So-Promised Land.

I think that just being in America, with busses and planes that run on time, people who don't purposely step on you, and requests that are both coherent and practical, has made me a disgruntled expatriate. I was talking with someone in Israel who owns a restaurant that often employs young Americans who have recently moved to Israel. He said that the success rate of people staying in Israel after moving there isn't so high. I can believe it. Luckily, it isn't my experience, as I am neither an immigrant nor a secular soldier, but it is the reality. Countless teenagers move to Israel; immediately enter the army after intense, but meager classes teaching Hebrew; spend the next several years of their life living in standards that are even low for "Israeli standards"; and are then thrown into a working environment of 14-16 hour days to pay for their 1/8 of the share for a two bedroom apartment. I'm sure that people who move to America don't always find it much better, but at least the promise (or lie) of America is better. Of course, this doesn't mean I'm all for America, and dislike Israel, my previous few blogs show the reality of that. However, I am all to aware that Israel has troubles itself. The huge sign at Ben Gurion Airport saying "Welcome to Israel", would be wise to follow-up with, "Watch Your Step".

As the conversations rolled on at shul and by meals, invariably it would turn to, "Do you want to live in Israel?" or "Would you marry an Israeli?", and I would try to phrase my answer so as not to be so harsh. However, in the company of several Israelis and other people who know me well, I was more honest. "I doubt it. I like carpet, air conditioners, things set for arrival at 5:15 not arriving at 5:45 as a rule" and so on. For others, I understood that they didn't want to hear this sort of thing. So, for their sake, I was nice and sociable, but as a wise man once said, "Sociability is just a big smile, and a big smile is nothing but teeth."

1 comment:

  1. I am so pleased that you can be so honest and still have meaning behind your words. But honesty is a true part of who you are and this story tells a story of its own. Peace and Love Ya Mom