Your Brain is Green
Of all the brain types, yours has the most balance. You are able to see all sides to most problems and are a good problem solver. You need time to work out your thoughts, but you don't get stuck in bad thinking patterns. You tend to spend a lot of time thinking about the future, philosophy, and relationships (both personal and intellectual).

Monday, July 21, 2008

Dial Soap, Anyone?

This started out as a comment to someone on the Tachlis list ( )about the availability of Dial soap in Israel [it isn't]. I have been in Israel so long I had to ask what was special about Dial [I was told because it has deodorant]

For as long as I've been in Israel, which will be 33 years this coming January, there has been The Great Washing Machine Debate, between proponents of large American machines which need a specially-sized niche and a hot water hookup [but are supposed to do a load in less time] and the smaller, European ones which heat their own water, fit into the niches in older apartments, etc.

Now there's a new debate: Can I survive aliyah with Israel substitutes for American products? Or maybe it's not so new. When I made aliyah, there were lots of items--food, cosmetics, cleaning items--that Israelis simply didn't know existed [like string mops and Brillo pads, beef frankfurters and real cheddar cheese] and didn't miss. Immigrants had their eyes opened to the gumi and sponja even while they eulogized the sponge mop and the Brillo pad. There was ONE brand of locally produced abrasive cleaner, maybe two or three brands of laundry detergent--essentially all the same. And lo and behold! we all ultimately stopped salivating after those Brillo pads and somehow--amazingly! managed to clean without them! Ditto American deodorant. There's always been soap, water, and talcum powder for those whose skin was too sensitive for Israeli deodorants [like me]

You know what's really eye-opening? Take a trip to NY [or anywhere else in the US] when you've only got an Israeli income, and you find yourself muttering "do I REALLY need this?" when you go shopping because you've got half the budget you had five or ten years ago. You'll be amazed at how different your priorities become. You'll live with the Israeli product rather than the American equivalent and keep your money for the odd gadget that DOESN'T exist in Israel. When I was in NYC about 18 months ago, I bought cunning reusable little bottle corks that really keep air out of wine bottles and the carbonation in soda bottles [I was sick of throwing out half- and quarter- filled bottles of Coke gone flat], and 10" plastic knitting needles [because I only find the longer ones here]. So I've got to use a bit more elbow grease with Sano-X cleanser than Comet! I'd rather spend my limited cash on something for which there's no Israeli equivalent! [I thought I'd buy medicinals like 1000 tablet bottles of ibuprofen, but at $15-24 per bottle, I eventually settled on getting Israeli prescriptions for smaller, but very much cheaper, amounts via the kupah]

It takes time. Some people take more time to adjust, some take less. I personally think food nostalgia takes the longest to overcome, and as others have written, while at first Israeli items seem to taste odd, invariably and eventually it is the American item that tastes too rich. Brillo pads are nice, but Israeli steel wool, dipped in Israel soap paste or cleanser really works quite well, but as long as you mutter "how will I manage once this box runs out?" or "which family member in the States can I hit on for the next Care package?" you only make life harder for yourself.

Some of this undoubtedly goes back to what I've called in a previous post "the homesteading instinct". Some of it is related to the perceived superiority of American products. Some is due to simple familiarity with American items, but some, I suspect, is due to a fear of losing one's American identity, in spite of a committment to Israel. That's a real tough one. Why were our grandfathers so very anxious to leave all remnants of their Eastern European identities behind and become as Americanized as possible as quickly as possible, but we want to remain as American as possible while clutching our Israeli passports? Can it be that we still have doubts about our choice to make aliyah? American Jews are almost unique among Jews because the choice is being made without oppression or persecution, or indeed coercion of any kind. In fact, most of us have had to surmount objections from our American families, who begged us, overtly or covertly, not to leave America.

I think that is one of the biggest things that has changed with aliyah in the three decades I've been here. Once it was "we've come to Israel to build (it) and be built (by it)". Now, it almost seems that we've come to Israel to build it as much as possible like where we came from, and only to be built by it so long as it doesn't threaten our American identities. This doesn't make me very optimistic about long-term aliyah success.


pinky said...

My Grandmother worried about her children and grandchildren losing their Irish identity. Really the only think I own that I can say is truly Irish is a shillegagh.

I can get myself an Irish passport and citizenship if I so wish but they no longer pass that down to your children so I wonder why I should do that.

pinky said...

opps wrong spelling. Correctly spelled shelaileigh.