Photo: AJR_photo/Shutterstock

13 Signs You've Become Culturally Israeli

Israel Student Work
by Stephanie Kempker Sep 11, 2015

1. All day you dream of breakfast.

Green salad, sliced vegetables, eggs, tuna, smoked salmon, challah, cottage cheese, labane, hummus or tahini (staples of every meal) — once you’ve gone Israeli on breakfast, you never go back.

2. You expect every Friday dinner to be enormous.

In Israel and in Judaism, Friday (Shabbat) is celebrated by a feast and gathering of friends or family — there’s usually between 5 and 15 people present. When your Friday evening features nothing more than a solo night of leftover pizza and Netflix — no schnitzel, grilled chicken, freshly cooked fish, salat matbuha, salat hazilim, tabbouleh or hours of friendly debate — you’re disappointed.

3. You’ve started giving every inanimate object a gender.

Even if you’re a native English speaker, you’ve adjusted your speech to include Israeli style grammar. “There’s something wrong with him” isn’t referring to your friend, “he” is actually your phone.

4. You’ve started talking more with your body than with your mouth.

Like your Israeli friends, you’ve become expressive and you raise your voice whenever you want to make a point. But even more important than your words are your movements. You’ve started waving your arms and gesticulating when you want to get something across. You clap when you’re happy and point at imaginary enemies when you’re talking about a third party. And when you walk, it’s always quickly, efficiently and usually in a big group.

5. You are now a political, military, and sports expert.

Or, you think you are at least, and you make sure everyone knows it. You know more about politics than Benjamin Netanyahu, more about military strategy than the general Gadi Eizenkot, and more about soccer than Dror Kashtan. The only question is, why don’t these supposed professionals see the correct strategy as clearly as you do?

6. Walla or YNet is your homepage.

You have an addiction to Israeli updates, good or bad. You can spend hours staring down your computer in search of Israel-related news. Out and about, your attention is constantly piqued by even the mention of your new country. You can hear the word “Israel” from miles away — it’s basically like a superpower.

7. You’ve started asking strangers where they served in the military.

After exchanging names, the most important part of any introduction is sharing where you served in the military. And you know that based on this new information, everyone’s going to try and make a connection with someone they know, who served in a same or related unit (or someone who knows someone who knows someone). “Oh, you served in Golani? My nephew’s teacher’s husband, Moti, served there too! Do you know him?”

8. You argue with your television.

When there’s no one around to debate with, your TV has to suffice. You know that it’s totally normal for loud, heated one-sided arguments to be heard across Israel during ”Hadashot” and “Nivheret Israel” matches.

9. You’ve become extremely dedicated to scoring a deal.

Even at the expense of time, you will get the best possible price. It doesn’t matter if you spend an hour haggling over a penny. A slight reduction in cost makes you feel like you won and aren’t a sucker.

10. You’re disappointed by the portrayal of Israel in the media.

You think the news coverage of your beloved country is unfairly negative, simplistic, and one-sided. The country that you love is so much more than what is shown on Al Jazeera or BBC. You’re surprised to hear that people think Israel is dangerous, or nothing but a desert, and love sharing stories of scuba diving in Eilat and bar-hopping in Tel Aviv.

11. You’ve become vegan without even realizing it.

You’ve casually joined the 5% of Israel’s population that has gone vegan. It’s so easy, already, many of the most staple Israeli foods, like hummus, pita, and falafel, are vegan without needing any substitutions. Even the international chain, Domino’s, has vegan cheese options at all of its Israeli branches. When you sign up for the military, you can choose vegan meals and even a vegan uniform

12. You’re disappointed when you have to go to dinner with Americans.

Because American-style dining means everyone orders their own meal. It sucks. Your used to the typical Israeli ‘hummus chips salad’ standard that everyone shares.

13. You definitely won’t eat a meal without bread.

And by bread, you don’t mean American-style pita, which is pita in shape only. The texture, the taste, and the uses of American pita are more like cardboard than real Israeli pita. Real pita is a fluffy powerhouse of puffed flour perfection, more like a thicker, sturdier Indian naan than that crumbly American pseudo-health food. Real pita is delicious when pulled apart for hummus, or stuffed with lettuce, vegetables, tahini and chickpea rounds for Israeli-style falafel, or even when eaten plain.

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