Signs you may be becoming more Israeli than you realized...

 I had one of these moments today. The inimitable (and hilarious) Benji Lovitt of What War Zone??? posted a picture of Jerusalem's weather report (rain!!) on his Facebook feed, and for a second I was really confused by it. Then I realized that I was trying to read it from right to left, so I couldn't understand why the "first" day listed was Tuesday.

So, in honor of that moment, here are a few signs you might have noticed that this whole "absorption" thing might be going better than you'd thought...

1. You see just one clove of garlic listed in a recipe and assume there must have been a mistake (and put in five cloves, just to be on the safe side).

2. You use "walla!" in conversation.

3. Someone asks your shoe size, and "41" is the first number that comes to mind. (Yes, that's really my European/Israeli shoe size. Even though I'm only 5'5" tall. Yes, I'm bitter.)

4. You think of the first rain as the sign that winter has arrived, not the first snow.

5. If someone serves you hummus, you automatically look for the pita to wipe it up with.

6. You find yourself singing along to a Mizrachi song.

7. You think instant coffee is a perfectly good morning drink.

8. You no longer look at the speedometer on your car and panic when you see a number over 90 (it's kilometers, people...)

9. Someone asks you for directions and you actually know how to answer.

10.The pro-Israel comments that your American friends post to their Facebook pages start to seem a little... naive. (Don't get me wrong, I'm very pro-Israel... but, well, it's much more complicated than that when you live here. A blog post for another day...)

11. When you pick up a Jewish book, you automatically try to read it from right to left.

12. The names "Inbal," "Elmog," "Dudu," "Hadas" and "Tal" no longer sound funny to you. Ok, so Dudu is still funny. As is any name paired with the last name פינס. Because we all have an inner fourth grader. 

13. You can't think of the right word in English.

Have you experienced any of these moments? Which would you add to the list?


  1. I am proud to have experienced some of these moments (but am ashamed that I still prefer fahrenheit!). Last week I was chatting with someone (in hebrew) - she was telling me a story and couldn't remember the guy's name - it was either Ahron Penis, or Ron Penis, or.. and she said the last name "Penis" at least 4 times and I just burst out laughing! She had no idea what it meant in english and we shared a good giggle. :o)

  2. Biggest sign? The rak rega gesture no longer offends me. Seriously, I wrote a whole post about this a few months back, but now it doesn't bother me.

    But the gan shoulder shrug (meaning "Lo ba li" or straight NO) makes me livid. If I see my son do it I make him say "No, thank you."

    I also keep buying mint to put in my tea, but since I am the only one who drinks tea in the house, half the bunch goes bad before I can use it up :(

    I agree that some of the pro-Israel stuff coming out of the US seems...I don't know. Very well intentioned but somehow naive and unrealistic?

  3. 3. Don't be bitter. As my husband, practicing his "Saba Humor," would say, it just means you have a good understanding.

    12. ROFL!!!

    14. You look at Benji's weather report, and realize that people COOK at that temperature... only to figure out that you stopped thinking in Fahrenheit three years ago.

    Nice post. Ya had me laughin' there, Girlie.

  4. I ALWAYS am forgetting the right word or phrase in English but usually I attribute it to age. I think I would forget even had I not moved here.

    By the way, I'm drinking instant coffee right now. ANYBODY GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?????????????????

  5. It's the coffee. An Israeli "large" actually SEEMS large now. When my husband travels to America on business, he has to order mediums or smalls. The larges are just monstrous.

  6. Hey! Even Meir Shalev has a fourth grader in him. Look for רומן רוסי.

    Also, I gree about the garlic thing. Only I thought it came from my Romanian genes. Ah, well.


  7. Benji, I'm drinking instant coffee too! Though I only drink Jacobs. I still have some standards.

    Gila, so true!! I kept ordering smalls when I was in the US, even though I never did that before.

    My husband and I have figured out a whole lot of Israeli names that go really, really badly with the (actually common) last name Penis... hehe... if this weren't a family blog I'd share my list...

    Ok, just a few: Inbal, Tal, Lital and Mor were two of our favorites... hehehe

  8. onetiredima - I also keep buying mint to put in my tea, but since I am the only one who drinks tea in the house, half the bunch goes bad before I can use it up :(

    Make tomato and mint salad with the rest of it. Delicious.

  9. Oh c'mon Maya you can't leave us hanging - what are the name combos??? Mara

  10. Ima in Texas... see my comment above... Lital Penis is a personal favorite :}

    Onetiredima... I have the same problem! Now I freeze mint (and parsley) that I can't finish. I also usually have a mint plant going, so I can just take out a few leaves. I don't know how people use a full bunch of mint in a week!

  11. Cool your Blog..good...now good luck for you.
    Mazal tov

  12. On topic of 13:
    You: "Are they building a MECHLAPH over there?"
    Me: "Mechlaph, in English, interchange..."

    BTW, you not only have a mint plant, but a basil tree. Now THAT's an achievement.

  13. Woo-hoo - I am Israeli! Sitting here in my 41 shoes, drinking instant coffee, saying walla and everything. Ah, thanks so much for making me feel better!
    My family keeps a running list of ridiculous names - I think my favorites are Nofeet and Tahel. And although it's not a first name, I always enjoy hearing about Tsomet Shizafon on the radio...
    Have a great day!

  14. Sorry, I'm slow, now I see your examples of name combos LOL!

  15. This post was too funny! (Especially the point about garlic!) I'm pumped your blogging is back. Your post about how you (or Israelis in general) feel about your American friends' pro-Israel comments would make for truly fascinating reading.

    I would say, however, that oftentimes Americans aren't really having the same conversation about Israel as Israelis are having. Israelis are having a conversation about what specific policies Israel should have. Americans who are not Israelis are not precisely that: not Israelis. They really shouldn't have to have a conversation about whether, say, the IDF Rabbinate should be able to independently convert people. It's not really relevant to them. Americans who want to support Israel are not having a conversation with Israelis, but with other Americans and other non-Israelis. So when an American says, "Israel is the Jewish State and nobody should be told they're not Jewish in the Jewish State," that could come off as naive or uninformed to an Israeli, but that's not the conversation the American is having; in reality, the American is saying that in response to other Americans who spend all day declaiming the Jewishness of Israel and saying that Israel has to be dismantled. Just a thought.

    Not to leave this comment too heavy, because your blog is too funny to go all Debby Downer on: "Tal" is a ridiculous name to English speakers? I don't think it is at all. But I suppose I'm biased, since that's going to be part of my Hebrew name and "Tal" is probably how I'm going to introduce myself in Israel. (Also, I'm tall and I enjoy bad puns. But apparently Israelis do too, right?)

  16. I think two linguistic telltale signs are replacing the soft "r" with the stronger "reish", and being able to pronounce "chet" appropriately.

    My step dad made aliya from South Africa, and we were always making fun of him asking for "rak marak" for dinner - his "r"s used to be a dead giveaway.

    I figure it takes a few years until you can talk "like a ben-adam" :)

  17. waving my hand: I'm also a 41 shoe-size and I love instant coffee (hated cleaning out coffee grounds every time i tried to get into filters). Nescafe Gold Espresso is the best!!!!

    We should start a club.

  18. I have been visiting your blog for a few months and love to read your posts! I wanted to ask you - my husband and I are planning our pilot trip in April of this year and one of my children will be in high school when we move. Are you aware of any olim that home school their children for the first year while they attend Ulpan? And do you know of any "pen pal" groups that my teenage daughter could contact to find other girls that are olim from English speaking countries? Thanks again for the great blog posts! Debbie from USA

  19. Hi Maya-

    I hope you had a happy and healthy New Year's and have hopped off to a fast start in "The Year of the Rabbit" (2011)!

    At Expat Arrivals.com we decided to minimize the grumble that most people can't help but avoid when getting back to the grind by rewarding some of our favourite expat bloggers with an accolade long overdue. We spent a good deal of time collecting, evaluating and ultimately choosing which sites were worthy of award, and now I have the pleasure of offering you our highest honor - the 2011 Expat Arrivals Elite Blogger Award.

    To accept this award all you need to do is upload our uniquely designed award image onto the homepage of your blog and link back to Expat Arrivals.

    In the following weeks we'll be releasing a list of winners and the criteria we used to select our top choices. If you'd be up for it, I'd love to have you answer a question or two about your blog and the creative process behind the product. I'll be incorporating responses into an article or two.

    I look forward to hearing from you and sending you the image, thanks for your time and consideration.


  20. wow your blog just cracked me up :-)-everything you say is so true! i wish i had found it when i was living in israel.
    by the way, do you have a problem remembering to include vowels when you write in english? this seems to be my longest lasting and probably most annoying "souvenir"

  21. your blog just cracks me up-its so true! i wish i had found it when i was living there...
    heres another sign of israeliness (maybe)-forgeting to use vowels when writing english. or is that just me..

  22. Because we all have an inner fourth grader so true

  23. Hi Maya,

    I was wondering what you ever decidied to do with the WWII era plate you discovered re creepy plate post in 09. this is a funny/strange coincedence but im a practising artist from Aotearoa(new zealand) and have been looking for an object like yours for non creepy purposes. part of my promblem has been, while i need such a plate for an artwork, i dont want to support any of the sites/shops that usually sell that sort of thing. Ive been approaching some museums but its always a tough process. Im wondering would you consider selling it, or donating it, or lending it(id cover international transport fees) for an exhibiton across the other side of the world?

    i know this is a longshot but thought it was worth a try,

    if by chance you want to talk more about this, (and i dont mind explaining my exact intentions for the work, or sending you kind of proof of who i am ec)you could post a comment back on my blog and from there we could set up a private email tread.

    really enjoyed what ive read on your blog,


  24. I've just discovered this blog and have been eating it up. I hope to make aliyah this year, and this blog has been a real eye-opener! I still have a ton of questions, though. I've noticed that it's been almost 2 months since you've written anything. Are you quitting? did I come to the party too late?

  25. Shalom Maya, all oki? Missing new blog posts? Hope youre well!

  26. Come back! We miss you...

  27. You're such a clever and witty writer, I'm so glad I discovered this blog! (At least I don't have any lingusitic problems in the USA - wait a minute, that's not true! lol)


  28. http://creedofnoah.blogspot.com

    Please add this to your blogroll (& encourage your fellow bloggers to add my blog or add it to their social networking sites) to help spread the awareness of encouraging acts of goodness & kindness among ALL people. Appreciated!

  29. Nice blog.i hope i can go to Israel this year.

  30. Hey!!!!
    What happened to your blog!!
    Your blog is keeping me from being too homesick!
    Very funny stuff! Great insights!!
    Miss your updates!

  31. I have a great idea for your blog! I am in America. And wanting to move to Israel! I am constantly told about how most Israel are always frantically scrambling from one job to the next. What is the strangest lineup of jobs your have heard of a single person doing to make ends meet in Israel?
    I am working on finding jobs to do as soon as I get make Aliyah. I told my facilitator I would to anything from wearing a costume(for a mascot or for advertising a restaurant or something), to data entry work, or driving a truck (I heard you have a whole year to switch your American CDL over to Israeli)or milking goats or cows on a kibbutz...

  32. Maya,
    I just recently discovered your blog and I'm sorry to see you haven't written since December! I've been studying on an Ulpan here for 5 months and will be leaving soon, but I've been writing a blog about my experiences and have found yours incredibly insightful. I hope you don't mind, but I've referenced your blog in a post of my own.
    Enjoy your life in Israel! And thanks for giving me something to read and make me sentimental when I go back to the states :)

  33. I come from Timor-Leste....
    We all Love Israel....

  34. I am not an Israeli, but aspire to be one. As proof of this, during countless times in the day, I stop in my tracks, add 8 hours to the current Chicago time and let out with a melancholy sigh. What is Israel doing at this moment?
    One thing that makes me feel that I should not make aliyah: I hate mint and mint tea. Could be a real deal-breaker. . .

  35. Hi Maya, great blog. This is Yuriy from HebrewPod101.com. Is there anyway to get in touch with you via email in regards to an affiliate partnership? You can reach us at affiliates@HebrewPod101.com.

  36. The first rain in California is also a sign of winter. And then it doesn't stop.

    I'm also never going back to imperial units, but I can't stand Mizrahi music or cottage cheese.

  37. Kinda late, here, but I'm just discovering your hilarious blog.
    A few more signs - your house smells like bleach, but your children smell like they need a bath. Ya'all got it wrong thinking nescafe is a good morning drink. "Real Israelis" start their day with "coffee" and only have "nes" around the 10am break, and it MUST have milk in it. If you make the faux paus (oh, how do you spell that?!) of asking for it black, they'll glare, ask again, raise an eyebrow, and decide you're just wierd.
    Other signs you're making progress - well, you can actually use the smatut without wanting to kill someone, cry, or get sick from all the hair and ook, and ick.
    And finally, you know how to read, and use appropriately, the silent of resignation - the chin-jutted out and up gesture that means, "You know, what can we do?"

  38. I totally agree with the garlic thing and singing to Mizrachi songs but I will NEVER-EVER use the 'rak-rega' sign!

    And another thing that shows you have become an Israeli: You can actually understand the pompous speeches given at ceremonies and know why everybody is fidgeting.


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