The view from my veranda

Bimah Article – What is it like to live in Israel

Sheila Silver Raviv – What is it like to live in Israel?

Gosh, that is a huge question!

What is it like to live in Israel? It is wonderful, but that isn’t what you asked.

Living in Israel means you are alive, alert and aware of the world in which you live, nothing is taken for granted except that if you need a helping hand you will find many reaching out to you.

I live in Jerusalem which is admittedly a little, maybe a lot, different to other towns and cities in Israel. Living in Jerusalem one is constantly reminded of the responsibility of the city and the incredible rainbow of humanity that lives here. This is not just the city of the three monotheistic religions it is a centre for just about every sub-sect of those religions! It is said that there are 52 Christian denominations, 8 Moslem denominations and a minimum of 600,000 Jewish denominations because everyone has at least 3 opinions!

Jerusalem is also the city that everyone wants to visit, to see our veranda, to spend time with us and enjoy the welcome found in our home – my lovely husband Zvi also comes from a welcoming family – so rarely a week goes by without somebody staying and a dinner party for long lost friends and family.

Our building has Jews from Poland, Morocco, Kurdistan, Iraq, Turkey, Tunisia and our cuisine is equally diverse. When one comes into the building on Friday morning the Shabbat aromas that permeate the very stones are of Hamin and Cholent; stuffed vegetables and gefilte fish; carp chraime and fresh salmon; indeed one can easily identify the part of the Diaspora by the scents emanating from under the front door!!

Living in Israel one need never be ashamed of who you are. You don’t need to hide your kippa, keffiya or hijab, because nobody notices. The Armenian priest shops alongside the Haredi family and the Catholic Monk walks beside the Moslem family, we just do it, there is no sense of strangeness. Despite the media most of the so-called “settlements” house supermarkets for the entire area, whatever building they pray in! We become expert at distinguishing men’s religious leanings by the colour, size and fabric of their kippa but that’s another story!

We love to tour and last weekend we went with my husband Zvi’s choir to the North of Israel and met with and learned about the Druze, Circassian and Bedouin communities that are an essential part of our society.

In Israel it is normal to ask a person how much they paid for their house, dress, furniture and obviously it is just fine to ask who they voted for. Truthfully asking about how much people earn is just a bit too much for this Welsh woman!!!

We talk to each other in the doctors waiting room, the bus and light rail, discover we are family while at the supermarket check-out and generally make friends very easily although it is certainly harder if you didn’t serve together in the IDF.

Living in Israel is an adventure. I am never bored, rarely talk about the weather except to say that it is too darned hot in summer and moan about the lack of rain until it pours! Life is full to overflowing and people never give up and just grow old. All our friends are busier now than they were before retirement!!

Babysitting is much more than watching the telly while the parents go out to dinner, it involves collecting from school, kindergarten and taking them to the park, feeding them and bathing them until parents come home from work in the evening often several times a week. Women are just as likely to earn high position as men, and work as hard and without grandparents it would not work.

So, I have given you lots of reasons and facts about life here but haven’t told you why I am so happy here. I suppose it is simple – I came home.