Gefilte Fish Out of Water


Anglos
March 28, 2009, 1:17 pm
Filed under: Cultural Differences, Pop Culture

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That’s what they call us English-speakers here.

There are websites for us, like Janglo and The Merkaz; a daily newspaper in English, The Jerusalem Post; and lots of sites have limited English versions for us (Bank Hapoalim, YES, PopRing).

And Anglos does not mean just Americans.  You hear every kind of English speaking accent possible – Aussies, Brits, Canadians, South Africans, Swedish, Dutch, South American).  In fact the English speaking AA meeting I went to today had people there from: Israel, USA, Switzerland, Sweden, Canada, Columbia, Argentina, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, the U.K., South Africa and Belgium.

And it is very easy to get by in Israel on English alone.  I’ve met many other Anglos who dropped out of Ulpan and speak only English – including one woman who’s lived here for 30 years!  Learning English is cumpulsory for Israelis beginning in the 4th grade, with many schools starting in 3rd grade and some as early as first grade.  While I am excited to begin Ulpan on April 19 and aggressively learn Hebrew, all my new Israel friends speak with me in English.  (And thank God for it, let me tell you.)

But in many ways you can be treated poorly in Israel for speaking only English.  People can try to take advantage of you, and I’ve seen an air of superiority among Hebrew speakers.  Plus, you do run into some Israelis – high school dropouts, various dim bulbs), who can’t speak English, and sometimes you’re just effed.  (When I’m in this situation, I invariably resort to breaking out the loud, slowly spoken Spanish.  Not because I think it’ll be middle ground, and could bridge the gap in the situation.  But more out of instinct and frustration – like just b/c I bust out the Spanish and am trying so hard to communicate with them, they will magically understand it, even though we are in Israel and they speak Hebrew.  Dur, Scott.)

Anyway, that’s what we’re called.

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