Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Everything and Nothing" at the same time

Today's post will be in 2 parts

I forgot to tell one part of the initial experience after I got to Israel yesterday. After I left the airport and was driving on the Tel Aviv highway towards Givat Shmuel, my first thought was, "wow, the country looks goooood."
You kind of get a warped perception of what life is like here from America. Largely because the only news you hear is bad news. Not that you're not aware of bad news here, but here you can walk around outside and see a thriving economy, lot's of people walking around enjoying the sun, and the sun, you don't get it quite like you do in America, and you see life in the country. Quite a different experience then one gets in America.
Anyways, I had a Russian cab driver, who spoke about 3 words of English ("yes, no, pen"), so I got to practice some of my Hebrew right when I got here. I was actually surprised by my Hebrew, I guess it wasn't as bad as I thought. So far actually it seems that I've been speaking to everyone in Hebrew and they've been speaking to me in English. I'll say my Hebrew sentence with one or two English words substituting the Hebrew one's I don't know, and they'll respond in English with one or two Hebrew words mixed. It's kinda working… Anyways I'm already expanding my vocabulary, guess how you say "energy?"
"Cholesterol is… well, "cholesterol.

So I asked this cab driver where he was from in Russia. He told me he was from the town of Berditchev.
There's a rabbi, named Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, who was famous for his Dan l'kav Zchut (giving everyone/everything the benefit of the doubt). So this was the name that immediately popped into my head.
I turned to ask him "Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev?" But before I got the chance, this not overtly religious looking guy, turned to me and said, "You know Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev? That was his place.

Part 2:
So today I went to Beit Shemesh to get part 1 of bureaucracy done…and walked away empty handed. I had to go to Betuach Leumi to get registered for health insurance and they had absolutely no one there who spoke English. I'm at the stage where I can mix up the two languages, but I'm not really conversational n Hebrew (yet!). So I'm going to go back tomorrow with someone who speaks Hebrew, and get this thing straightened out.
But the day was not a complete waste; I had the completely random experience of taking a cab with an Israeli who lived in Baltimore. He said he lived there from 1991-1998 and he told me there was one thing he learned there, and it took him 8 years to learn this, "In America you have everything, yet you have nothing. In Israel you have nothing, yet you have everything."
I'm heading to Jerusalem for the first time on this trip tomorrow, will write later.

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