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News from Israel 5.4.24

05/04/2024 10:36:40 AM

Apr5

Shabbat Shalom everyone,

This past weekend, while you were all busy celebrating Easter like good Jews, I visited Boston with my friend Raz. Some of you might know, that just like Rabbi Morrison, I am a red sox fan.

I root for them not only because I like the color red, or because I care deeply about baseball - but because I grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts, right next to Boston. While I was really young, I do have some core memories from Boston, from the years living there and visiting in the summers of the years following. 

I was very excited for this trip, and was wondering what kind of feelings it might bring up.

During the trip, I noticed that lately, I’ve been thinking about my childhood a lot. Perhaps it’s because of the distance from home and how much I miss my parents, or maybe it’s because we are surrounded by children during this year. A lot of thoughts have come up comparing childhood in Israel with the children we get to see here in Toronto. 

One big difference is obviously a cultural one. A lot of us like to joke about the Israeli ‘Hutzpa’, and while it is funny, it’s not wrong. Manners are different between the countries. A story my mom loves to tell is how when coming from Boston I was the most polite and well behaved kid. She loves to tell that it took me exactly five days in Israeli kindergarten for me to turn from a “please” and “thank you” kid, to telling her that I’m not her servant when she asked for help with something.

While I promise that is not the way I act today, it does show a big difference in the culture. 

Another difference, is the sensitivity to different topics. Coming here, one of the first things we were told is the difference in what is considered ‘politically correct’.  A lot of Shishinim that work in schools struggled with the fact some topics or words are not allowed to be said in their school for certain age groups, that wouldn’t even be thought about twice in Israel. With holocaust remembrance day coming close, we struggle with understanding what is allowed to be discussed and said. In Israel, the holocaust is something talked about way before first grade. I don’t remember a reality where I don’t know about the holocaust. Since the war, it is something we experience much more often. Some places allow to speak about it more freely, while some places won’t allow the use of the word ‘Hamas’. The children in Israel, obviously, don’t have that privilege. Whether their parents shelter them more or less, they can’t escape the current situation. 

There is an Instagram page I’ve always loved, that focuses on uploading funny, entertaining or heartfelt quotes from young children, sent in by their parents or family members. Since October , the happy and funny quotes have been infused by quotes trying to grasp the reality of the war.

Let me share some with you:

-Ofir, 5, when asked what he wants to do for his birthday: “I want to go to a city with no sirens.”

-Orian, 5: “Mommy, how is it that there is room in the heavens for so many people?”

-Lia, 7, from Kibbutz Beeri: “Mommy, I don’t want to die. I am only 7 years old. I’m too little to die”

While these quotes are heartbreaking and obviously reflect the reality of war - they also show the difference in exposure to different topics. When I was 12, we moved to Palo Alto, California, for a few months. I remember talking to some of my friends there, and casually mentioning being at the beach and running to the rocks to take shelter when there is a siren. I remember how trivial I thought it was, and how shocked everyone was at the fact we had actual rockets flying overhead.

We’ve noticed how sheltered the Canadian children are compared to the Israeli kids. At first it was weird for us. But on second thought we realized that this is not a negative thing by definition, but the result of a different reality.

We hope the Israeli parents can soon choose a sheltered reality for their kids.

Shabbat Shalom

Wed, 29 May 2024 21 Iyyar 5784