Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Letter From Israel

  elinor        אלינור   

The Bullet in the Washing Machine

or How Can You Live in that Country?

My back gets up every time I’m asked that question; every country has its problems.  Israel is simply smaller and much more intense.  However, we’re more than ever surrounded with hostiles lately, so I suppose I should give house room to a proper answer.  Some thoughts:

·        It’s chocolate season in Israel, which produces some pretty tasty stuff.  But in the spring the chocolate reaches a perfect consistency and even people who don’t like dark chocolate make yummy noises over it.  It’s not messy as it is in summer; it’s not brittle and ungiving as it can be in winter, it’s just perfect.  Chocolate season ends as June begins and begins again in time for Rosh Hashana. I've loved chocolate all my life and never noticed the season until I began to live in Israel. 

·        One day, accompanied by my American daughter, I bought an eye shadow in ‘her’ country.  Garage-door blue, she sniffed.  I liked it, so what.  I told my Israeli daughter what her sister had said.  No worries, said she, there are no garage doors in Israel.  Perhaps the importance of that exchange has escaped you.  It hasn’t escaped me.

·        Many years ago I was walking in Jerusalem with a native Israeli.  We were chatting away in English when some people passed by, speaking French.  A few second
s later some Russian speakers drew close.  Gee, he lamented (in English), doesn’t anyone speak Hebrew in Israel anymore?

·        Street scenes:     

Russians everywhere.  The women well groomed, hair tinted, manicured to the elbow, shiny red pedicures, well dressed—one could even say overdressed—in skirts and high heels.  The men are clad in shorts and sandals.  After all, it’s spring, and compared to Russia…

Couples engaged in earnest conversation in Russian, of course.  She’s speaking, her voice higher than that of most other immigrants in town.  She either gesticulates wildly or not at all.  He walks alongside, nodding nodding nodding.

Israelis.  Two women, wishing each other well with the same words, same gestures at the same moment.  It’s a wonder they don’t hurt each other with their long, polished nails.  It's quite a ballet.

One man, three women.  The women all talk at once.  The man is totally silent, head to the side, sweetly bored.

I found these scenes touching. Different. Interesting.  And I was just passing by.

·        Met a neighbour on the street.  What’s new?  He replied: Obama is still landlord.  In just four words, he got it.

I know that all the surrounding countries would love to annihilate us.  I’m sure we can win a moderately difficult fight but if any country is all-out determined to blast any other out of existence, it certainly can, these days.  I’ve always felt that we live—as individuals—by the grace of others, so I see no reason to change my perception. 

Oh—about the bullet in the washing machine.  You've met my grandson, the naval gunnery instructor.  Every time he comes home his mother devotes herself to getting him back to base on time with all his laundry washed, dried and sorted.  This time she heard a constant clatter in the washer and of course feared the worst:  trying to find a repair man on the weekend.  But no, a shell casing had been hiding in one of the sailor’s pockets and is now perfectly clean. 

Has that ever happened to you?

Life in Israel.

Cross posted Geoffff's Joint

1 comment:

  1. A bullet in the washing machine definitely means something different here in North Philadelphia than it does in Israel...