State of the Rosh Hashana Address

Well, my loyal readers, I had hoped to churn out a deep, thoughtful 475 page post about my vacation (more than just my impressions of American grocery stores and US Weekly’s most recent article on ______’s baby bump), all the reflection I did about my second year as an oleh, and what lies ahead this next year. Then again, I also hoped to earn a starting spot on the Israeli national basketball team but that hasn’t happened either.

The last train to Binyamina is in a couple of hours and I’m afraid I’m just not going to have time. That said, let’s quickly throw some gunk down and see what comes out.

  • Five minutes after leaving the Atlanta airport in my rental car one month ago, I turned on some cheesy morning radio show and thought, “Omig-d, this country is SO WEIRD. Could the host please stop all the fake laughs at Nick Lachey’s bad jokes? How about an hourly news update? I NEED GALGALATZ AND I NEED IT NOW, DAMMIT!!!” (By the way, I can’t believe I still haven’t done a post on Galgalatz but it really is the “unintentional Jack-FM“. On Jack-FM, the DJ plays Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over” because it’s an oldie but goodie. On Galgalatz, not only was it never taken out of the rotation in the first place, but the DJ probably assumes it’s still popular.)
    Time after time….they play the same music.

    Don’t be offended, Americans-just trust me on this one. Look, I think I am more patriotic and invested in the future of America than ever before, and moreso than many (most?) Americans. It’s just that living abroad gives you a different perspective. If that sounds snobby….what do I care? I’m a rude Israeli! Ha! On that note, it did feel more weird to visit the States. I hear that feeling only increases with each subsequent visit.

  • Driving around with the windows down, music blaring, taking in the nostalgia and familiarity of an old home, I thought, “Man, I could move back here and have a fun, great life.” But something huge would be missing. I could probably write a few thousand words about this.
  • I spent a few minutes with my friend Ziv’s Israeli parents in Dallas. They told me that my identity would forever be messed up. When I’m in Israel, part of me will be in America. When I’m in America, the opposite. Welcome to the life of an oleh. Nobody said it was simple. (Although my bus driver did once say that Israeli women, umm, look the way they do because of chumus. I’m not going to say any more than that. This blog is rated PG-13.)
    Are Israelis even aware of movie ratings? I’m guessing they don’t show up when you illegally down-I mean, rent from those vending machines on the street.
  • G-d, there were so many “bubble moments.” They say Tel Aviv is a bu-AH (bubble) or not part of Israel, but so often in suburbia, I thought “Is this real?” I felt like I was driving around Pleasantville. This isn’t exactly breaking news but when everyone around you can spend so much time not thinking about about existential things like the future of your people or nation, you kind of want to pinch someone and say, “HEY! Is it just me thinking about this stuff?!? Is everyone ok???” At one point, I expected everyone to freeze and have a supernatural spirit jump out and talk to me like in the subway scene in “Ghost.” (This paragraph has been brought to you by IMDB.) By the way, I admit that this is probably changing among a lot of Americans with the credit crisis, election, etc. Now let’s all get out and vote! (And if you didn’t yet read the live-blogging of the debate, here it is.)Am I wrong? Look, it’s not worse. It’s just different. There are plenty of things about Israel I wish were more like America like what I wrote a couple of weeks ago…

    Hey, kids! Here’s something fun about the US of A! I love shooting the shawarma with customer service people like, say, the airline people behind the counter, especially giving them a pre-emptive “how YOU doing today?” before they can even ask me. If they ask me first, I one-up them and raise the chipperness by a factor of ten. Retail Lady: “Good morning, how are you today?” Me: “I’M FANTASTIC! HOW ARE YOU TODAY???” Then we play “ring around the rosy” and do a conga line.

    I never noticed the service in America quite in the same way when I lived there. Not even the way some customer service rep met my needs, just in the way they spoke to me for who-knows-what reason.

    And I can’t tell you how much less STRESSED I was for those 3 weeks. At one point, I stood in line at Citibank to deposit checks and realized I was completely at ease, not worried that something might go wrong which I’d have to negotiate or resolve in Hebrew like I always seem to do in Israel. I fully realize that a large amount or most of this stress lies within me, and not in the outside world; I hope it changes this next year.

    I’m not one to say life in one is better than another. Hey, this little country ain’t for everybody. No country, including America, is. But there sure as heck is something in the air here that you just can’t find anywhere else as a Jew and there was no way I was going to miss it by extending my vacation into the holidays. Try saying “chag sameach” to the Radio Shack lady in Midtown Manhattan and tell me how that goes over. I went to the new Apple (iDigital) store this morning in Ramat Aviv. I’m guessing just everyone there will be celebrating Rosh Hashana over the next day or two. That’s awesome.

Maybe a good way to measure the meaning of the holiday is to look to the kids. Not only does Whitney believe the children are our future but they’re too young to give a dishonest answer. When I was a kid, I’d sometimes smuggle a Choose Your Own Adventure book into shul to keep from losing my mind. Here? I’m guessing it’s more positive. I guess the moral of this whole story is the same moral of every holiday post. Man…I just can’t imagine being anywhere else on this Rosh Hashana.

To tell the line-cutter if he is mamash dafuk l’gamre, turn to page 54.
To quietly seethe, turn to page 67.
(This joke really warrants its own post.)

From the entire staff at What War Zone???, we wish you a shana tovah u’metuka (a good and sweet new year). Chag sameach!

So much for a short post.

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