I Sound Like A Greenhorn, and I’m Proud Of It!

Thanks to the best linker in the world, Ezzie, I finally found this (I remember hearing a lecture on this topic the first year after we made aliyah, but I could never find it in print afterwards). Chayei Sarah has a post about the five stages of adapting to Israel after making aliyah. She describes the emotional roller-coaster you go through, until you reach the final acculturation stage.

The thing to remember is that the stages overlap with one another. You can be euphoric and panic too. And the last stage, acculturation, creeps up on you so slowly that you don’t realize that you’ve “made it” until someone puts a mirror in your face.

We hosted a friend’s son for Shabbat, who is studying for the year in yeshiva. He’s a great guy, but I kept thinking to myself, “he’s SO American”. After reading Chaya Sarah’s post I realized that he was my mirror.

I will never be considered an Israeli by native Israelis, including (and especially) by my kids. They love to gently tease me about my accent. “Say gargirim Ima”, they will ask. When I do they fall over themselves laughing at my American “R” instead of the Hebrew “rolling Reish”. Don’t think this is obnoxious – they always check to make sure I laugh with them, and one son even asked me point blank if I was offended. I said no, that I am in fact very proud that I am the one with the accent and not them – which wouldn’t be the case if I had never made aliyah.

Despite the fact that I may not be an Israeli in others’ eyes – I am as far as I can get. And I am blissfully happy to report this.


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Risa
    Aug 03, 2008 @ 23:19:15

    My kids (and others) always make fun of me. In fact, I am proud to say, my grandchildren are now old enough to point out that Savta’s renditions of their Hebrew bedtime stories are really hilarious! They are the next generation to consider me one very tall order fadchanit . I’ll need some help on the translation however, but in general it means ‘important person in your life who cannot be ignored but nevertheless you would rather bury yourself than be identified with her except she happens to be the one who feeds you and fulfills other important functions’.
    Ken yirbu

  2. aliyah06
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 05:41:15

    I have come to terms with my total failure to roll my reishes and inability to properly articulate the vowel ayin…..on the other hand, the same kids who tease me about these linguistic impossibilities are promptly put in their place when I ask them to pronounce the two forms of “th” in English–even those few who can manage the hard ‘th’ can’t hear the difference between the two.

    My biggest concern at this point is simply getting past elementary Hebrew and up to a more conversational level…..in time, I hope.

  3. Baila
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 11:16:41

    We’ve been here only ten months and my kids (pre-teens and teenager) are already cringing at my accent. Their Israeli accent is music to my ears.

  4. therapydoc
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 03:05:36

    We lived in Israel for a year and found that when we didn’t try, we were a lot happier. When you’re just comfortable being you, people are comfortable around you, that sort of thing. I’m in awe that you made aliyah.

  5. faith/emuna
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 20:05:41

    your accent and speech may give you away but culturaly you are not that american anymore. and if you dougbt that then spend a shabbat in one of the communities that have alot of olim. my father cringes at my kids english but i love it that it is not their native language, kind of a badge of honour for me.

  6. westbankmama
    Aug 11, 2008 @ 07:28:39

    Risa – I never heard of a fadchanit before! You learn something everyday by blogging!

    aliyah06- it comes with time, don’t worry.

    Baila – yes, we will always sound like greenhorns.

    therapydoc – why are you in awe?

    faith – yes, my kids sound like “dibs” BARUCH HASHEM!

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