After too many questions, doubts, and negatives written and spoken about Israel, I was getting a little depressed. Along comes Benji Lovitt, the comedian, writer and blogger who made Aliyah six years ago, and puts everything in perspective.
On the occasion of this 64th Independence Day celebration starting in Israel tomorrow, I can't say it better than he does in his piece, Sixty-four things I love about Israel. Below are the first 21 things (click on the link to read it all; believe me, you don't want to miss the rest), followed by his video, made after he was in Israel 5 years, which cheerfully encourages me to make Aliyah--or makes me want to run like hell--I don't know which.
Lo meshaneh*. To all Jews in Israel and all over galut*, Chag Ha'Atzma'ut sameach*!! (and thanks, Benji!)
Sixty-four things I love about Israel
1. I love how Israelis can be completely indifferent to politics but will still argue about their favorite hummus place until they blow an artery.
2. I love that when I went clothes shopping, a guy let me use his dressing room even though he wasn’t done yet. I didn’t catch his waist size but he was definitely an XL gever-gever.
3. I love the “mmm-bye” farewell greeting used by certain Israelis when hanging up the phone. It’s a cross between “l’hitraot” and a Hanson song.
4. I love that after striking up a conversation with a complete stranger at the Ben-Gurion baggage claim, not only did he offer me a ride home but we also discovered that we shared over 60 mutual Facebook friends. Seriously, how are there any Jews who still don’t know each other?
5. I love that because we were unable to get home due to the Jerusalem Marathon, we agreed that our driver would drop us off somewhere else, take our luggage to his home in Ma’ale Adumim, and deliver it to us later, with not a fear in the world that it wouldn’t go exactly as planned. The guy got out of his car to bring the bag all the way to my door. Now that’s service.
6. I love how the worker at Bank Leumi decided she could call me “motek” after knowing me for all of 2.4 seconds.
8. I love how when you call a wrong number on Passover, they still say “hag sameah” before hanging up.
9. I love that instead of worrying about kids developing peanut allergies, parents feed their babies Bamba before the doctor has even finished cutting the umbilical cord.
10. I love how every time the Tel Aviv bike rental project opens a new station, people post “mazal tov” in the Facebook comments.
11. I love that the Asian sushi chef gave me the rega hand gesture. How do you say “kibbutz galuyot” in Japanese?12. I love that they don’t sell any of that “not kosher for Passover” matza crap here. Who the hell eats that? That’s like taking medicine labeled “Insulin: not suitable for diabetics.”
13. I love that the owner of the makolet across the street carried my roommate’s groceries home just because. Strange that batting my eyelashes hasn’t worked for me.
14. I love that a sherut driver will divert from their route to make sure a little girl gets home safely, coordinating with the other drivers over their CBs like the Israeli Dukes of Hazzard. (With the way she dressed, are we sure Daisy wasn’t a Southern freha?)
15. I love that Bob Dylan played his first concert in almost 20 years here. It’s unclear which language he was mumbling in.
16. I love that the Red Hot Chili Peppers are finally making their long-awaited appearance here. I hope they open with “Californicatzia.”
17. I love that you can discover at a Shabbat dinner that three different women share the same gynecologist. I couldn’t decide whether to be impressed or uncomfortable.
18. I love that certain stores advertise their dependability by claiming to be open “24/6.”
19. I love that this gas station offered a Friday special of a free newspaper and Shabbat hallah with a purchase of 180 shekels of gas:Not seen in this advertisement: a purchase of 250 shekels gets you a brisket and an autographed copy of Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s “Kosher Sex.”
20. I love that upon leaving gas stations or other parking lots, you see a sign that says “Tzetchem l’shalom.” Because nothing says kabbalist liturgy like unleaded gasoline.
21. I love that there is no design too intricate to put in the foam of a latte. You could request the waiter to draw a Pac-Man board and he’d ask, “Ehhhh…..weeth or weethout deh dots?”
And just for laughs and giggles (I never say bad words), take a look at his first encounter with learning the language (Hebrew) when he first made Aliyah, in intensive immersion classes, called Ulpan.
*lo meshaneh: it makes no difference
*galut: the diaspora (those outside of Israel)
*Chag ha-Atzma'ut sameach: Happy Independence Day!