Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Becoming Ever More Israeli

In July I will be here 25 years.

I married here and became a parent here. So, most of my life as a responsible adult and the whole setting up of home and family experience happened to me here. My husband is a Sabra and an expert in the Hebrew language. So, my interactions with my family are mostly in Hebrew. In fact, my daughter's English is very poor. I have no choice but to speak in Hebrew with her. My son's English is considerably better.

I can pronounce the gutteral reish and ayin, even the kuf, which is so deep a gutteral that it issues from somewhere around one's knees.

Still, the process of becoming more Israeli goes ever on.

I remember being aghast that people would pick nuts or other finger foods out of the large, open sacks and boxes in the shuq. It looked so unsanitary to me. Just the thought of any number of people whose hands had been I know not where touching food and eating it one after the other me made me sick.

One day; I pinched a cookie in the shuq, tossing regard for sanitation to the wind. I enjoyed the septic morsel thoroughly and was delighted with my progress toward real Israeliship (Israeliness?).

When I got home I said to my son: "Today I became a real Israeli! I ate a cookie from an open box in the shuq!"

He looked at me levelly and said: "If you were a real Israeli you would do it without thinking about it and would never mention it."

I advanced nicely and today I even make my tuna and egg salad with humous instead of mayo.

Today, I took yet another giant step toward become a real local.

Though I have a plastic squeeze bottle of real Heinz ketchup in the fridge; I put techina (tahini) on my hamburger today, like a lot of Israelis do. The first time I heard of putting techina on hamburger I thought I'd .

My next project: Learning how to smooth humous and labane on my plate with the back of a spoon and fashion a perfect indented pool in the middle for olive oil and za'atar.

When a Jew becomes more Israeli is that acculturation or enculturation?

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat (Safed), Israel

DoreenDotan@gmail.com