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Brother Can You Spare a Million?

Life in Israel

I am writing this story from the perspective of a five-year American immigrant to Haifa, Israel. Many of my years in America were spent on the beautiful Western Slope of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. By many people's standards I enjoyed a quiet, idyllic life of peaceful serenity. Many of my thoughts and those of my neighbors-were filled with green surroundings, beautiful lakes, and regional wildlife. My life as an Oleh (immigrant) is certainly far from serene.Why did I make this dramatic change in my life? There are many reasons. The most important is that I firmly believe that the return of the Jewish people to the land of our roots is destiny. It is a destiny with spiritual, religious, social, and political implications that have already proven to have historical implications. Haifa was my choice of city in this incredibly complicated and diverse nation due to the beautiful scenery, balmy weather, and cultural harmony of this glorious metropolis. Haifa is located on the sea and hosts a wonderful tiyelat or boardwalk.

At some point in your first few months as a new immigrant in Israel reality sets in and challenges replace idealism. You realize that, even though your decision was the correct one, you still must overcome some hurdles that you hadn't expected before your sojourn to the holy land. My experience has been that dealing with the differences in culture are the greatest obstacles to overcome for new Olim to Israel. I have also learned that my prejudices are an obstacle for me as well. I brought a series of expectations of life in Israel that turned out to be very different than reality. Israel is a nation of seven million people from numerous social and cultural backgrounds. Twenty per cent of Israelis are Muslim, Christian, Druze and other faiths in addition to the Jewish citizens of this new nation. There are three national languages: Hebrew, Arabic, and English. Russian is widely spoken.

Gossip is a favorite pastime of many Israelis. I learned very quickly upon immigrating to Israel to protect personal information with great diligence. The purchase of a new shirt can often be the subject of great interest in my community. My love life is shared with my closest confidants only, at times to my regret.. Judaism considers gossip spoken without a constructive purpose (known in Hebrew as an evil tongue, lashon hara) as a sin. All the tenants in your building know how much you earn and the size of your monthly payments. What will be the eternal fate of my neighbors!

Even though they teach you the word "savlanut" or patience, no one seems to have any. There is no shame in asking. You can negotiate a parking fine and generally get out of it. No one will refund your money, once you've parted with it, it is gone for good. Refunds, even at many large stores tend to be a difficult battle at best.

My greatest frustration in dealing with some of my new neighbors is the "all Americans are friars" mentality. Friar is the Hebrew word for sucker. The belief is shared by many Israelis is that all Americans are millionaires and easily part with their riches. In my five years in Israel, I've been asked to buy homes by non-owners several times. Strangers have begged me for loans on countless occasions with vows of poverty accompanied such pleas. Much of the time I discovered that my neighbors were far better off than I am financially. There have been many occasions that fellow diners in restaurants tried to stick me with every one's bills. I try to confront these obnoxious behaviors and always get the same response. "Your a rich American, what do you care!" I have come to learn with time that all French, Spanish, and Russians tourists and immigrants are rich also! I should have no difficulty meeting a nice and wealthy Jewish girl in this country.

I have given great thought and received much counseling on the subject of Friarism. I must remember that many of my new neighbors come from the most difficult backgrounds in history. Indeed, the old axiom that money is the root of all evil may also apply in Eretz Canaan. Perhaps the scarcity of natural riches in Israel concerns all of us. Let us blame Moshe or Moses for our errant behavior. Let me tell you something that we Israelis have against our famous forefather. He took us through the desert for forty years to bring us to the one spot in the Middle East that has no oil!

It might seem to the readers that I am frustrated or even angry at the spiritual nature of my new neighbors. I have learned to ignore the gossip and occasionally greed surrounding me. I try to remind myself that many of my new friends come from backgrounds where it was prohibited or even dangerous to speak openly or enjoy opportunities that we all take for granted. I have learned to truly appreciate the freedoms that I enjoyed in The United States and now enjoy in Israel.

"Above all, this country is our own. Nobody has to get up in the morning and worry what his neighbors think of him. Being a Jew is no problem here." Thank you Golda Meir!

Posted by eshugerman 07:47 Tagged travel israel haifa hebrew Comments (0)

Chelm Exists in Haifa:

Israeli Humor

The town of Chełm decided to build a new synagogue. So, some strong, able-bodied men were sent to a mountaintop to gather heavy stones for the foundation. The men put the stones on their shoulders and trudged down the mountain to the town below. When they arrived, the town constable yelled, "Foolish men! You should have rolled the stones down the mountain!" The men agreed this was an excellent idea. So they turned around, and with the stones still on their shoulders, trudged back up the mountain, and rolled the stones back down again.

Allow me to introduce myself. Earl Shugerman is my name. I am a proud immigrant to Israel of five years. I moved to Israel at age of fifty eight from Colorado. Why did I make this dramatic change in my life? There are many reasons. The most important is that I firmly believe that the return of the Jewish people to the land of our roots is destiny. It is a destiny with spiritual, religious, social, and political implications that have already proven to have historical implications. Haifa was my choice of city in this incredibly complicated and diverse nation.

Haifa (Hebrew: חֵיפָה‎‎, Hebrew pronunciation: [χeiˈfä], Ḥefa; Arabic: حيفا‎ Ḥayfā[2]) is the largest city in northern Israel, and the third-largest city in the country, with a population of over 268,000. Haifa is a mixed city: 90% are Jews, more than a quarter of whom are immigrants from the former Soviet Union, while 10% are Arabs, predominantly of the Christian faith. It is also home to the Baha'i World Centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Built on the slopes of Mount Carmel, the history of settlement at the site spans more than 3,000 years. Over the centuries, the city has changed hands numerous times. It has been conquered and ruled by the Phoenicians, Persians, Hasmoneans, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, Ottomans, British, and the Israelis. Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the city has been governed by the Haifa Municipality. The weather is balmy although a bit cold at times in the winter. There are two major universities, a large and well known tech center and lots of parks and fun things to do. My famous place to hike is Park Carmel. Our region’s most famous resident was Elijah the Prophet. He reportedly lived his nomadic live in the Carmel Mountain Range.

I have enjoyed many blessings and faced many obstacles in adjusting to my new home. One of the greatest obstacles to overcome is to learn a new language especially at my age.

Israel offers newcomers the opportunity to study in an Ulpan. The Ulpan is a four hour a day program where new immigrants study Hebrew and receive some orientation to their new homeland. Private tutoring is available at a fee. I chose to both attend the Ulpan and receive private tutoring. My tutor Elinor Kimmel used the children’s stories about the citizens of Chelm as our study guide.

Almost every culture around the world has developed stories about fools in their midst. It’s a way of gently poking fun at themselves. In Jewish folklore we find a wonderful mythical town in Poland called Chelm located in Poland in the days of old. The residents are usually happy, gentle folk who also share another virtue – they are considered fools by everyone living outside of Chelm. But the Chelmites know they are the great sages of the world, the brightest of bright. Stories of the Chelmites have adorned Jewish humor and folklore for centuries.

…Two men of Chelm went out for a walk, when suddenly it began to rain. “Quick,” said one. “Open your umbrella.”It won’t help,” said his friend. “My umbrella is full of holes.”

“Then why did you bring it? “I didn’t think it would rain!”…

My favorite cafe in Haifa is the Ego Panorama. The owner is a long time resident of Haifa named Hannah. Hannah’s family came to Israel in 1948 from Poland. They were fortunate and thankful to have escaped the horrors of the Holocaust. I sat down yesterday to eat and study my beloved Chelm stories at The Ego. Hannah came over to me and began to giggle in a good natured way. “My family is from Chelm” she informed me with great glee. Chelm exists! It is a nice sized community in Poland of no particular distinction other than its contribution to the world of humor.

The greatest joy that I have derived from my immigration to Israel is learning about the great diversity of culture and history that this nation has to offer. I can visit the Sea of Galilee, Jerusalem. And Tel Aviv in the same day! Israel is a nation of Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Druze and other citizens. In many cases we manage to live together with a fair degree of harmony. Israel is a nation of immigrants from virtually every nation on earth. It is common to sit at The Ego and listen to fellow diner’s converse in several languages!

Posted by eshugerman 19:58 Tagged travel colorado panorama jewish israel humor dan haifa hebrew immigrant chelm Comments (0)

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