For years and years, we were planning to go to Israel, and then delaying it. And finally, we went. Lot of people were telling me that I would love Israel, actually only one guy, one of my neighbors, told me that he did not like Israel, and did not recommend us to go there.
Of the extended family, I am the only one in the United States. The rest of the family left the Soviet Union for Israel in 1990.
So, I have not seen part of the family for 28 years. A part of the family I have not seen since I was 6 years old, and it was 61 years ago.
And part of the family I have never seen. They were born in Israel.
There was some uncertainty about our trip till nearly the last day, so when we finally turned to a computer looking for tickets, the best deal at that time was a flight by Russian Aeroflot with a stop in Moscow.
Sort of symbolic…
Our next 10 days were very hectic, involved a lot of visits, a lot of driving around. First, we were comparing everything with the US, until we figured that it was a stupid approach… Then we simply lived there for 2 weeks, absorbing the Israeli reality, and not having the time and capacity to judge.
I was under the impression that everyone in Israel speaks English. Turned out it was not really the case. Of course, you can survive with English, as, at least in cities we visited, there would always be someone understanding English. To my surprise, the language, which was way more common than English was … Russian. But why surprise? After all, they say that 20% of Israel’s population was born in Soviet Union/Russia.
Many of them are older people, they often do not really know Hebrew, and yet have no problem in their day-to-day lives.
A Russian-born poet Igor Guberman said that Israel is a tiny country from the outside and a huge country inside. I did not find a better definition of Israel.
Israel is a very young country. Started 70 years ago with the population of 806,000, less than 10% of its current population of 8,842 million. 28% of the population is between 0-14 years old. It is a very young and vibrant country. And you can see and feel it there.
No, there is no feel of being surrounded and there is no feeling of a war, that may erupt at any moment. While it is a reality, you do not feel it in Israel.
Israelis seem to be happy people.
They probably are.