A little over a year ago, I left my hometown; namely: my neighborhood, community, the street I’ve lived on for the past 27 years, and most of my family– for my real hometown, ISRAEL! And now, this summer, I’ve returned to my “…land and from your birthplace and from your father’s house” (Genesis 12, 1, for lack of a better word) for a visit. 

In the past, when I’ve come back home (i.e. Montreal, at that time) from Israel, I went on and on, making fun of all the “Only in Israel” moments I had experienced. This trip though, my whole perception is different. I now truly feel that Israel is my home, and during my trip, I went on and on about the “Only in Canada” moments which I will NOT be missing when I return HOME (i.e. Israel)! I’ve come to appreciate the “Only in Israel” much more while visiting Chul.

Here are just a few:

  • Sitting on the bus with my kids, looking around, I notice that they are the only kids on the bus. I also notice how much of a feeling of disconnect I have with the people around me, not one of them is Jewish like me (I’ve already bageled them, based on their yappety French-Canadian phone conversations and cultural ethnicities). 
  • Waiting in a government office, again my kids are practically the only children around. I guess I’m the only crazy one to bring them? Nothing to entertain them, and no one looks entertained. 😊 And it’s a “no eating zone”. (I can’t remember ever seeing that sign in any Israeli office). Also, in Israel, the child-adult ratio in government offices is roughly 3-1.
  • While walking down the street to my car, through a construction zone, holding my baby in his infant car seat with my toddler holding my other hand, I notice something missing. I had all my defenses ready to get yelled at, but it didn’t come. Pieces of sidewalk were sprawled across the road, since they just dug up the street, yet the construction workers around didn’t turn to yell at me! And I mean, they didn’t yell things like, “Be careful!” “Give me the baby!” “Don’t fall!” “Watch where you are going!” or “Are you crazy?” Honestly, I kinda miss that. 
  • On the many days of Yom Tov, while walking to shul with my family, I was caught off guard by all the cars on the road and businesses that were open. I got the feeling of, “why are they driving on Yom Kippur, don’t they know its ‘Chag Haofanaim?’ ” until it hit me that hardly anyone here is celebrating the holiday and to them it’s just a regular workday. 

So, next time I am faced with a random Israeli who’s taking up 6 seats on the bus with her overgrown family; smothering my children as if they are their grandma; yelling at me for my parenting skills (or lack-thereof); or hear the sweet sound of off-key, off-beat singing of the myriad of families singing at the same time in the sukkahs on the block, I will embrace it and remember that “Only in Israel” do people care, “Only in Israel” I am amongst friends, and “Only in Israel” am I surrounded by family, whom I never knew I had.