Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A kiss is just a kiss

Malke’s post about Israeli smachot (she’s still waiting for comments, BTW) reminded me that I never wrote about the significant aliyah milestone I recently achieved.

Of course, our klitah (absorption) is far from complete. For instance, as I discussed a few months ago, even though we’ve been here almost eleven years, YZG and I still can’t figure out when to show up at a simcha.

But I’m pleased to announce that I think I’ve finally mastered one important aspect of Israeli culture: the Official Israeli Double Simcha Kiss TM.

Yes, that’s right. I’ve actually learned how to kiss the hostess once on each cheek while wishing her a mazal tov… without feeling overly awkward and self-conscious. (Note the emphasis on the word “overly”…)

The key is that it doesn’t involve a quick “kiss, kiss” rhythm. Rather, it’s best described as more of an unhurried, three-step process:

  1. A kiss on one cheek
  2. A noticeable pause while one slowly and deliberately moves to the other side
  3. A kiss on the second cheek

As you can imagine, the middle step is the trickiest. While you certainly DON’T want to overdo the pause, you don’t want to rush it either. Basically, this is one of those techniques which should probably first be practiced at home.

I should also warn you that it’s not all smooth sailing even after you get the hang of the Official Israeli Double Simcha Kiss TM.

Because all my gloating about my supposed cultural proficiency aside, I have yet to learn how to respond with a polished “baruch tehiyeh”/“bruchah tehi” (literally, “may you be blessed”) when I’m the hostess and someone else wishes me a mazal tov…



  1. If you had been brought up in France, you wouldn't have had to learn. It is a daily practise here.

  2. I detest having strangers kiss me.
    Now I know not to visit France.

  3. Ilana-Davita - I guess this is another reason why European olim usually have an easier time adjusting to Israel than American olim do...

    SuperRaizy - LOL! :-)

  4. I'm here almost 40 years and never learned the code answers. I also forget which cheek to kiss first. No wonder people think I'm an olah chadasha.

  5. Batya - "which cheek to kiss first..."
    And THAT'S what I get for boasting that I "mastered one important aspect of Israeli culture." I didn't even know that there WAS an official cheek order...


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