July 3, 2005

The unimportant, the disgusting, and the thought-provoking.I’ve learned a few things in the ten years since I moved to Israel. Some of them are interesting (at least, they are to me), some are unimportant, some are downright disgusting, and some are fairly thought-provoking.

With the school year winding down and the hot, lazy days of summer almost upon us, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the store of knowledge I’ve gained to date. So here, in no particular order, are a few of the things I’ve learned.

My neighbor Chaim grows the sweetest plums I’ve ever tasted.

Maybe I hang out in the wrong places, but in a decade’s time, I have yet to find a decent bagel in Israel.

What I grew up calling shish kebab is called shishlik in Israel. Kebabs are made with ground meat.

I learned that it is considered socially acceptable to ask people their salary, or how much they paid for their house.

Bats do not defecate, they vomit. (I did warn you that some were disgusting, remember?)

Much though it pains this California girl to admit it, Danny Sanderson’s Hebrew version of the Beach Boys’ song “Come Go With Me” is much better than the original.

It is illegal for teachers to accept gifts from individual parents (unless those gifts are handmade).

Unfortunately, I have learned that there are such things as flying cockroaches.

If you own a television, you have to pay an annual television tax.

Even though Israel is tiny, the various parts of the country have totally different characters (more about that next time).

Israel has three commercial ports: one in Haifa, one in Ashdod, and one in Eilat.

There are seven airports in Israel, though only Ben Gurion Airport and the Eilat Airport serve international flights.

Most cities and towns in Israel have a street named after Theodore Herzl.

All dwellings are required to have a bomb shelter.

I was saddened to learn that some of the very best Israeli singers were more successful abroad than they were at home.

Up until very recently, there was no capital gains tax in Israel.

You cast your vote by putting a slip of paper into an envelope (no hanging chads for us!).

If you don’t pass your matriculation exams, you can’t go to college and it will be very tough to find a job.

In Israel, ‘college’ means junior college, and ‘university’ means college.

While we’re on the subject, I recently learned that there are eight universities in Israel.

It is against the law to call someone a Nazi in Israel.

Some people hang strings of garlic bulbs in their yards to ward off the evil eye.

I have also learned that there are alot more interesting, unimportant, disgusting, and thought-provoking things out there, waiting to be learned…

I wonder what my list will look like in another ten years.

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

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