Archive for March, 2009

29
Mar
09

She Knows Nose!

Ami: I think I’m gonna write about OPOL.
Karen: What?
Ami: OPOL. I wanna write about it.
Karen: Write about what?
Ami: OPOL. Jesus, do I have to spell it out for you?
Karen: Yes please.
Ami: O-P-O-L. OPOL.
Karen: The car?
Ami: Not Opel. OPOL! OPOL! We do it everyday!
Karen: We do an OPOL everyday?
Ami: Ya know what? I think I like this game…
Karen: Damn it Ami, what is it?!
Ami: OPOL?
Karen: YES!!!!
Ami: But you just gave me a great start for my blog entry.
Karen:  Wait…
Ami: For what?
Karen:  I think I know what it is…
Ami: Nu…
Karen:  One Parent One Language?
Ami: Darn. Thought I could’ve kept it goin’ a bit longer. Oh well…
Karen:  Nice try, Ami. Nice try… 
A few days ago, I picked Emma up, and asked her where her ear was. I like to ask Emma where her ear is. Not because I think she’s lost it or anything, but because I like hearing her say “ear” while shoving her cute little index finger down it, almost enough to scrape her eardrum. 
After she did it, she immediately pointed to her nose and said “Af!”. I think I scared her when my eyes almost popped out, and then yelled “Karen! She knows nose!” 
rude-child1In a way, it was the first time we got a glimpse to see how this whole OPOL experiment was going. We knew from the get-go we wanted Emma to be bilingual, and after a few searches on the net decided to try out OPOL – One Parent One Language. The rule is, I speak to Emma in Hebrew, and Karen in English. No ifs, ands or “aval”s… Emma’s about 20 months old now, and even though she goes to Hebrew day-care, she knows quite a few more words in English than in Hebrew. I believe Karen’s teaching abilities might have something to do with it. And till now, Emma would point at the various features on her angelic face in English alone: “Eeya!” (ear), “No!” (nose), “Chee!” (chin), “Mau” (mouth) and “Eye” (thank God).  
But lo and behold, here she was, in my arms, pointing at my “Af!”, scratching my “Naim!” (oznayim) and inserting her hand, albeit at times deep enough to make one gag, down my “Peh!”. 
Still, I can’t help but be a bit apprehensive about the way it might affect her development in a Hebrew speaking society. The rule of thumb is that OPOL might at first slow down one’s verbal development, but later on in life it picks up to normal speed. We’ll just have to wait and see. 
But all in all, it seems like she’s off to a good start. She cetainly makes her “Aba!” proud.
26
Mar
09

O Quirky, where art thou?

So…. this is it, huh? This is what everybody’s talkin’ about? The whole “blog” thing? …. OK…. Let’s give it shot…

  As you can see in my “About” page, I’m a half & half, one of those many Israelites-AngloSaxites wandering this earth aimlessly, in a predetermined unsuccesful attempt to figure out where we belong. But don’t get me wrong, this isn’t one of those “where’s the grass greener?” blogs, or any kind of discussion on the true meaning of Zionism or all that kinda stuff. This blog is about the unique vantage point I and my half & half brethren (you guys) have as we take in the events here in Israel, and over there in Normaldy. Do we look down on the Levant with Western eyes? Does the Western chill send a shiver down our warm Levantine spines?

  Throughout their lives, Israelis are often asked what definition they prefer to stick with: Israeli Jew, or Jewish Israeli. I’ve dealt with that one, too, for most of my life (until I became an agnostic, which simplified things quite a bit).

But I’ve always had another identity crisis on my hands: being born in Israel but being raised by two American parents, and living part of my childhood in the Goldena Medina. So, what am I? An American-Israeli, or Israeli American? I’m not even going near the whole American Jew, Jewish American thing….

I’ve always noticed that there are parts of me, of my personality, that resonate strongly with aspects of the Levantine culture (accelerated heart beat while being overtaken on the road, followed by an unavoidable urge to return the favor, or devouring a falafel as if it were my last chance on earth to let tahini drip from my mouth onto the sidewalk) and also with the Western civilization (my attempt to stay calm while being over-passed, and constantly pulling out napkins from the red-coke-napkin dispenser to wipe off all that tahini my falafel was swimming in)…. See what I mean? I know what you’re saying. You’re saying, “Ami, I know a great shrink”. But when you think about it, all of us half & halfs are a bit on the quirky side, no?….

square-dancing

Mom and Dad square dancing

Come on, let’s face it. You gotta be just a tad loco to live in a stretch of land the size of New Jersey (I forget, when they do that whole Israel=New Jersey thing, does that include the territories? Shouldn’t it be Delaware?) surrounded by a gazillion people who don’t exactly think you’re the best thing since sliced bread. And it’s not like there are any perks for willing to live in a danger zone, either. Most of us live in flats the size of a matchbox, barely make enough to cover the rent or the mortgage, breath polluted air, deal with ridiculous third-world bureaucracy, and constantly complain.

I think I started to understand the quirkiness of us half & halfs growing up with my folks in Haifa. Sure, my folks are quirky in their own right, but I would always put that down to my teenage-rebellious-judging the parents gig. The whole idea kinda hit home as a teenager every few months, when it was our turn to host the square dancing group. Looking back at it, the whole thing seems so surreal. There I was, sitting on a chair and holding a piece of paper, calling out the dance: “Do-si-do your partner!”, “Ferris wheel!”, “Pass thru the center!”, Promenade!”. And since I spent part of my childhood in Dallas, I couldn’t help but give out a “Yee-Haw!” every once in a while, as I watched my folks and their half & half buddies swirl around and constantly bump into each other…

Those were my first encounters with real half & halfs, the guys who grew up all their lives in the States, but decided to be here. And as smart, funny, intellectual, kind, warm and lovely as they were – I always felt there was something, how should I say, a bit eccentric about them. And even with the age gap back then, I felt a bond.

Are we a bit flaky? Sure… But you know what? Whenever I visit Grandma in southern California, and we sit down to watch TV but are interrupted by the daily helicopter-car chase over the 405 freeway, I always start to wonder: just who, exactly, is flakier?….