Spending time in Orange County, adjacent to Los Angeles, gives one a new perspective on life as it is lived by former Israelis in America. like all other ethnic groups, they tend to gather together in groups, associate socially with one another, speak their own language and maintain their traditional habits.
So although it came as something of a surprise to find that our son and his partner seem to associate almost entirely with former Israelis, what was even more surprising was to discover how varied their lives were. Some of them have done well, live in grand houses (interiors done by interior designers, everything in white), while others live in more modest apartments. These differences don’t stop them from associating with one another, and hosting one another ion the many and varied occasions that life in America, offers — especially if you’re a former Israeli. Whether it’s Thanksgiving or Chanukah, guests from abroad or just to have people round to view a film in one’s super-confortable viewing room (with a real popcorn machine on hand to serve guests), no opportunity to gather and make merry is missed.
I know that somewhere along the way work is done and a living gets to be made, but that seems merely incidental to the main concern, namely, getting together to chat in Hebrew, eat hummus, jakhnun and shakshuka, which are all available to be bought or homemade here, though of course on Thanksgiving, that truly American festival, the traditional fare is more or less universal.
Although they have left Israel for good, and made a success of their life in America, most of the Former Israelis we have met here still hanker for the country they have left, making frequent visits there to see family and friends, and even owning property there. Their children, whether born here or there, bear Israeli names, and I wonder how a child called Suf or Bar copes with the puzzled looks they doubtless encounter each time they have to give their name e.g., in Starbucks when ordering coffee). i know from our own experience how difficult it is for the average American to cope with my OH’s name, Yigal.
And apropos Starbucks, our daily breakfast experience has taught me that nothing beats their grilled cheese sandwich. But while there’s a lot to be said for the American way of life, i’m looking forward to being able to buy fresh bread and challah from the Angel bakery in Jerusalem. and of course to being back together with my friends and family in Israel.