Saturday, April 13, 2013

Cultural Differences In Israel

מוצש"ק פר' תזריע-מצורע תשע"ג

There I was, minding my own business and grabbing a few last minute items before Shabbath. Very last minute: floating wicks, spoons, and bathroom tissue. You know, the essentials.

I got to the check-out line, and saw that the lady before me, a native English-speaking Jew from a non-American country, by the sound of her accent, was fishing for her money. I had my money out already, so I asked the store owner's daughter behind the counter how much my total was. Just then, this lady said to her friend in English, "Welcome to Israel."

I turned to her, and in English, I said that I thought I could get my total and pay before she got her money together, that I wasn't trying to jump in line, just be efficient with time. By all means, now that she had her money out, she should pay first.

As she was paying, and apparently still perturbed, she told me that I could clearly see that she was in the middle of paying.

I said that, yes, I could see that, and repeated that I was not trying to be rude, just trying to be efficient with time.

She said that she knew that I wasn't trying to rude, and that I should have a Shabbath Shalom, but still...

That wasn't enough. Her initial comment REALLY irked me, making such a gross generalization about Israelis! But, how could I convey that to her, in a way that she might actually be able to hear it?

So, without seeming like I was trying to get in the last word, I suggested to her that we just operated differently than in either of our countries of origin.

In other words, things were not always the way they initially appeared through our Western galuth (exile) upbringing.

She said, in a bit of smarmy, yet more relaxed way, that, yes, things were different here.

"But, we're home," I said.

"Yes," as she left the store, "We are home," she agreed.

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