You Can Tell You Are An American Olah If…

There are always cultural differences between new immigrants and those who have been living in a place for generations, and of course Israel is no exception. Sometimes the differences are slight, and sometimes they are telling.

This time of year brings out one large cultural difference between native Israeli women and olot chadashot – the Pesach seder. If you ask an Israeli woman where she will be for seder, nine times out of ten she will be either at her mother or mother-in-law – even if she is in her forties and the mother of seven or eight kids. If you ask an American olah – she will likely be making the seder herself, even if she is just married. Sometimes this is from necessity – she has no family in Israel and must do it herself. Sometimes she is lucky enough to have family in Israel, but her mother (or mother-in-law) has decided that she has made the seder enough times already and she wants to hand the baton to the next generation.

Israeli women, for some reason, see this “handing over the baton” in a much more negative light. For them not making seder is an admission of old age. I have neighbors who complain about shlepping their big families to their parents – but when they offer to make seder their mothers get deeply offended, and they back down. Just this week I heard from another friend who is going to her mother-in-law, who is, bli ayin hara, 78 years old (!!!).

I am lucky in that both my brother and my sister-in-law live in Israel, so we alternate (this year I am hosting, one of the reasons why blogging has been so light lately).

Chag kasher v’sameach (a kosher and happy Passover) to all of my readers….


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Risa
    Apr 05, 2009 @ 17:07:31

    This is *SO* true!
    I love making seder and have done so for many years although when we were first married we made it with friends sometimes at their homes and sometimes at ours. When my first two kids got old enough to understand we made a seder just the 4 of us and it was really special. Since then we have had many configurations including our families from the US and only once in say the last 30 years did I not make the seder.
    Now that we have married kids and grandchildren we have the this year here the other year by the other side, which I find annoying. Last year we had my parents-in-law and all my kids and grandchildren so this year we were slated to have no one but my unmarried daughter. (I hate these rules.) We strong armed one son and daughter-in-law to coming and we may have some local non-family as well. My oldest son who has children old enough to really understand wants to make his own seder. This year they are going to his wife’s family along with a whole crowd of brothers and sisters and cousins. But I told them that I would not be in least bit offended if in “our” year they decided they want a smaller intimate learning experience with their own kids. We”ll get together some other time and maybe when we have a year that everyone wants to be with the ‘other side’ we’ll come to him as well.
    Where is this stone that has these rules chiseled in it???
    Chag sameach!

  2. Jack
    Apr 05, 2009 @ 21:01:52

    Chag kasher v’sameach to you too.

  3. mother in israel
    Apr 06, 2009 @ 03:32:41

    Have a chag kasher vesameach.

  4. rickismom
    Apr 06, 2009 @ 04:47:19

    Definately! I have always made the seder myself, having no family. But if my married kids would offer to have me, I would be insulted, feel old, etc. So I guess over the years I’ve become Israeli! (I mean, I HAVE been here 36 years!!!!)

  5. Baila
    Apr 06, 2009 @ 20:11:03

    My kids are 11 through 15. I wouldn’t mind handing the baton over NOW….

  6. Batya
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 03:11:18

    Over the years we’ve done it almost all. Mostly we’ve hosted, including a couple of years when my in-laws were our guests. We’ve gone to friends and my sister-in-law when she was in Israel. Last year, when married daughter was at her mother-in-law’s, we went to our son’s Nachlaot bachelor pad for the long weekend, since he works in security.

    In Shiloh, you see all sorts of combos, being that there’s such a mix of people.

    Chag Sameach!

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