One could say Aliyah memories are a dime a dozen, thereby minimizing their potency but I love recalling the diverse memories relating to aliyah experiences. They were the occurrences that began to shape my new life in Israel. Each new experience added a unique dimension to my personal growth, as they taught me about myself, as well as Israel. I feel blessed that my Aliyah memories are predominantly positive….especially the humorous stories, for they allowed me to lighten up and stop taking life so seriously.
I would like to share the following quote, which I made up: “if humor isn’t part of your innate make-up and it trips up your brain, maybe Aliyah shouldn’t be a consideration.” Now, you have probably figured out that I am a total Aliyah pusher, but honestly, Aliyah does test you on every level and if you cannot laugh at yourself, well, you could be in big trouble, if you make that decidedly significant move.
Aliyah memories and humorous stories are the dynamic duo that sit side by side in every undertaking, as you settle into your new country and home. They have the potential to cause epic explosions of laughter, as the multi-faceted realities of Israeli living experiences and challenges chip away at your ego and sense of self. However with humor as your companion, you could actually be guided into a state of freeing laughter. Having said all that, I will now divulge some of my own personal Aliyah memories of humorous stories.
Hebrew Word Stories: I love words and I like speaking clearly, so I am heard and understood. Early on, while living in Jerusalem, I was working at learning some simple words and phrases. Since we were eating out quite a bit, I wanted to learn the words that state something is tasty. I learned that if you enjoy the taste of something in a restaurant, they love hearing you say that it was “ta-im me-0d”. This means it was very tasty. I like the sound of that. I was also learning the word “na-im me-od,” which is what you say, when you meet people for the first time. It means nice to meet you.
Soon after learning these words, I met someone for the first time and to proudly show my command of the new language, I said ta-im me-od instead of na-im me-od, which in their mind meant, you are very tasty. They walked away with a strange expression on their faces and my friend, who introduced us cracked up laughing.Then at a restaurant, when the waitress asked how I liked the food, I said na-im me-od which meant very nice to meet you. She looked confused as she walked away and naturally recognizing my mistake after the fact, I burst out laughing
Camel Stories: The words, “Middle East” personally conjures up childhood memories of the book “Tales of Arabian Nights”. Perhaps, with my imaginative energy being consumed by books of all flavor and variety, I perceived the darkly fascinating Middle East as a mythical place. Yet, here I was suddenly living in that place and I decided to watch my back , so to speak. One autumn day, an Arab man wearing the traditional long white robe with his head covered by the red and white scarf (keffiyeh) started following me, while I was walking to the grave-site of King David. I felt a little nervous especially as I recalled the book, “Tales of Arabian Nights”.In a deep, husky voice sounding rather ominous, he said, “would you like to ride my camel?” I was shocked and extremely indignant! I asked him exactly what he meant by that question! To my extreme surprise, he started laughing. Suddenly, I spied his camel around the corner. Need I say more? Speaking of camels…..I once had a taxi driver ask me how many camels my husband paid for me. I laughed the entire taxi ride and even getting out of the taxi. Another time, I had an Arab taxi driver ask me, if I wanted to become his 4th wife…..now that was creepy cause he was dead serious but at least we didn’t discuss camels. Thank G-d, we soon purchased our car and that took care of my Aliyah memories relating to humorous camel stories. However, there is one more to add. When my youngest daughter was visiting, we were in southern Israel and saw a sign that said, “Camel Crossing Ahead”. We laughed and thought it was a humorous Middle East joke.A few miles ahead, we saw a large herd of camels crossing and we laughed out loud,realizing we were after all living in the Middle East.
Taxi Drivers Stories: Taxi driver’s are a great source of information relating to the history of the land, as well as fascinating stories. As far as I am concerned, they should have a taxi drivers story night. I think they could make a lot of money. I certainly would attend! One taxi driver I rode with was born in the old city of Jerusalem and he recalled eating grass and weeds to stay alive during the 6 day war. Another one, was the first baby born at the Hadassah Mt. Scopus hospital where his mother was taken by armored car to give birth. She refused to stay in the hospital more than one day because the hospital was under fire. She also returned home with him in an armored car. Another taxi driver grew up in the location of the new, prestigious Waldorf Astoria hotel in Jerusalem. As a child, he would hide and watch snipers shoot at his mother, as she hung the laundry. I actually miss those poignant and informative stories from men who have experienced a great deal of life and history in the Holy land.
Restaurant Stories: My husband was very excited at the sign in the restaurant window that said oriental food. He grew up in new York and loves Chinese food. He asked the waiter in his broken Hebrew if they had egg rolls and the Israeli waiter cracked up laughing. It was a Moroccan restaurant. The truth is anything oriental means it is predominantly related to the Eastern world and to the continent of Asia.My husband associated oriental with Chinese….I did as well.
Dear friends, I hope my Aliyah memories of humorous stories made you smile or laugh. I do have lots more stories, but I think you get the point about the fun of laughing at what life present. Humor is a vital ingredient to living life well. I think this quote by, Steve Goodier, says it best, “Humor can make a serious difference. In the workplace, at home, in all areas of life-looking for a reason to laugh is necessary. A sense of humor helps us to get through the dull times, cope with the difficult times, enjoy the good times and manage the scary times.”