My husband is having surgery this coming Thursday to repair a torn rotator cuff. (I will undoubtedly write a blogpost about our experiences with socialized medicine in Israel but so far, so good.) Because he will be housebound for awhile, I suggested that he go see the latest Star Wars movie the day before his operation since by the time he recovers it will probably no longer be playing in theaters.
I myself am not much of a movie-goer (I saw the original Star Wars movie when it first came out and that was it for me), and really have no desire to see the latest and greatest. So I did what any resident of my village does when they have something they need: I posted on a village Whatsapp group asking if anyone wanted to join my husband tomorrow night at the movies.
Before I tell you how this ends, a little preface. We chose to live in a village rather than a city precisely because we thought we’d integrate into the community faster due to its smaller size and intimacy. Israelis are very very connected to their families and extended families and get-togethers with relatives are constant. Israelis also have close relationships with their friends, but many of those bonds are formed from their younger years when they were in youth groups and later, in the military. Consequently, many olim may find it difficult to integrate socially and “break in” to Israeli culture, and some olim feel both alone and lonely — especially those who reside in large cities, where finding one’s place in a “community” may take a lot of work.
In our case, our logic was good. We weren’t looking for an “American ghetto” in Israel, although there are a smattering of Anglos where we live. Even though our Hebrew is far from perfect, we get by pretty well and people respect our efforts to speak in Hebrew despite our sometimes sounding like 4th graders or making lots of linguistic mistakes. Our village has 290 families and while by no means do we know everyone, we’ve gotten to know numerous people quickly. There is rarely a Shabbat where we are not invited or else that we do the inviting for a meal, but we never are alone unless we consciously choose to be by ourselves. We are part of a seniors group, an English-speakers group, and regularly participate in a wide range of local activities. We’ve been in Israel for 9 months and many people have commented, “it seems like you’ve been here forever.” (Fortunately, they mean this in a good way!) It’s true: our village in particular, and Israel in general, feel like home.
But my favorite part of this story is the person who will be my husband’s Star Wars “date:” a man 33 years younger than my husband, a person who we both call our friend.
Now I don’t know about you, but in the United States, we rarely had multi-generational friendships: people mostly socialized with people their own age. But here, one of the things we absolutely love about Israel, is that we have friends from all walks of life professionally and economically; from different levels of religious observance (and many who are completely secular); from many different cultures and countries of origin, as well as sabras; and many different ages – both much older and much younger than ourselves. We feel so blessed and privileged to love and be loved, and to be included not because people pity us, but because they choose to be part of our lives and let us share part of theirs.
The Force is truly with us.