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Thursday, June 22, 2006

"I no speaka Hebrew"

OK, that phrase might seem offensive to some of you, but it relates to this post. Again, procrastinating my work, which is sitting in front of me, I just read something very funny. Still rule all wrote about embracing Israeli culture and life as a prelude to his brother's family making Aliyah (immigrating) to Israel with Nefesh B'Nefesh's July 5th flight, the first of the summer. It's a really good post, and I totally agree with it. He gave a story that perfectly describes what happens and the detriment of an "Anglo" (American) family moving to Israel, only to live in a "mini-American" community. Meaning, all American families, all English speakers. Here's the story's excerpt:
Live in an Israeli or at least a Mixed Community-MyShan has a friend who told her before a test that she's nervous because the Hebrew level is so high on the exam. Shan asked her when she made aliyah, and the girl answered that she was BORN here and lives in Ramat Bet Shemesh.

I understand completely that moving to another country can be very scary and very intimidating. On top of that, put a foreign language, and you have a recipe to be outright petrified. Therefore, it seems easy to acclamate to the new environment by moving into a community with other people like you. Other people that come from the exact same place as you. However, the biggest problem with that is that it is very easy to get stuck and never leave that comfort zone. It's ever so easy to never learn your new country's language and culture. Why bother leaving your country and uprooting your entire life and family if you're just going to move into a miniature version of your existing reality? Just to say that you live in Israel? How can you say you're actually living in Israel if you never actually see the country?

I'll be the first to admit that my Hebrew speaking skills are not so good. I'm still afraid to open my mouth, and I know it would just be so easy to say to my husband that I want to live in an Anglo community, so life is easier on me. But, I actually want to live in a perdominanly non-English speaking community. I want to be forced out of my comfort zone. I have adapted Israel as my new country, and I want to immerse myself in its riches, both good and bad. I know that I will always be an Anglo to native Israelis. I will never have an Israeli accent when speaking Hebrew, no matter how hard I try. Unfortunately, I came here too late to join the Army, so I will never have that, and that is something that I deeply regret. But, I am an Israeli as much as any other citizen. I want to be part of this country, not some splinter cell of it. So, as still rule said, if you are even remotely considering making Aliyah, prepare and allow yourself to truly embrace the culture. Don't fall into the trap that if you join an exclusively American community that it will allow you to adjust to Israeli life easier. That's a complete ruse, because by doing that, you'll NEVER adjust to life here.

11 Comments:

At 6:32 PM, Blogger Chai18 said...

couldn't agree more

 
At 2:46 PM, Blogger Emah S said...

Keep it up, OC! The more you immerse, the better you'll be. funny thing though, Frenchhill I think was "the anglo" community of the 80's. am I wrong?

anyway....great post, but GET BACK TO WORK WRITING THOSE PAPERS!!!! :)

 
At 6:15 AM, Blogger Ezzie said...

I pretty much agree. When we go, we're hoping to NOT be in a place like today's RBS (as opposed to my SIL's family who just made aliyah). OTOH, we should be coming in with a better Ivrit to begin with, so we shouldn't have as hard a time.

 
At 11:11 AM, Blogger westbankmama said...

I agree with you 100%. We moved to a yishuv with about 10% English speakers, and I learned most of my Hebrew just living here. A good tip for those who are scared - listen the Hebrew radio - it really helps build up your vocabulary.

 
At 1:18 PM, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

For a laugh read:
http://abbagav.blogspot.com/2005/10/how-abbagav-learned-hebrew.html

 
At 8:17 PM, Blogger blueenclave said...

Hear, hear! The people we know on the Nefesh B'Nefesh flight are trying to get out of RBS ASAP, as soon as they can get by in Hebrew.

 
At 9:32 PM, Blogger mother in israel said...

We came when our oldest was just a baby, but it can be very tough for kids when there's at most one or two kids in their class who speak Hebrew. Which is why not too many are making aliyah to our community (although things are picking up some lately). With all the trauma of our aliyah (you can read about it on my blog) the language barrier was, and still is, the most difficult part of aliyah for me. And I read, write and speak Hebrew on a fairly high level.

 
At 12:56 AM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

blueenclav, that's exactly the point. Your friends say that they want to get out of RBS as soon as their hebrew is good, but RBS isn't an environment that encourages one to improve your hebrew. Chances are your friends won't be leaving there.

mother in israel, I understand you completely. I have the same exact problem, but I'm determined to make it work, and it seems that you are too.
-OC

 
At 11:06 AM, Blogger Batya said...

Hebrew's the key, and one will never improve one's Hebrew if in an English-speaking neighborhood.

When we were in Jerusalem, we were in then-mixed Bayit V'Gan, where I used both. Moving to Shiloh was to a Hebrew-speaking world, but an English-speaking neighborhood grew around us. Strange...

 
At 5:32 AM, Blogger steve said...

Good article and comments.I have no desire to move to Israel(I'm an American),but it is nevertheless admirable of you to have done so.

Steve

 
At 12:38 PM, Blogger Jerusalem Joe said...

good for you!too many people here live in self-created cultural ghettos

 

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