Monday, December 14, 2009

Aliyah memories: Make yourself at home edition

The following incident took place soon after we made aliyah, when I had yet to master the local mores.

But now, some 11½ years later, I’ve obviously become quite the expert on Israeli social conventions. And if you believe that, I have an unfinished bridge to sell you…


A then-little boy who lives across the street had spent the afternoon here in TRLEOOB* playing with a Shiputzim son.

But now it was suppertime, and the kid showed no sign of leaving.

I was still used to American-style playdates, where the mothers arrange everything – including the pickup time - in advance. However, we had been in Israel long enough for me to realize that the system works very differently here.

So I decided to try the direct approach.

ME: You have to go home now.

KID: No, my mother said I don't have to be home until 7:00.

ME: {at a loss} Um, yeah, but we're about to eat supper.

KID: {unconcerned} Oh, that’s okay. I'll just play on your computer while you're eating...



*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog


  1. Wouldn't an American kid say this? In France this could happen but would reflect poorly on the parents.

  2. "try the direct approach" - um, sounds like the super deluxe direct approach is in order.

    "This is the door. You are welcome to visit...tomorrow. Today, you need to visit the other side of this door. Bye, thanks for coming."

  3. Classic. When it was bathtime in our house, the playdatee announced she was happy to join in! :)

  4. How about,

    "My mother allows me to eat with you"


    "So I'll phone my mother and ask if I can eat with you"

    and what did you do?

    We would say

    "In our house guests have to go at 6:30"

    (but nowadays when the kids are older we are much more lax with that).

  5. Yeah, I have no good advice about that one. I just try not to care :)

  6. When we stayed with my mother in Israel last summer we had some neighbor kids show up just as we sat down to Shabbat lunch (they were younger than all the kids at my mothers house). We sent them home and told them to return after lunch.
    Later, their mother came to me to complain that we were rude to send the kids home (one flight up). I explained that we just sat down to lunch and she said "so? they still could have played".

  7. Ilana-Davita - This is definitely one of those cultural differences we've talked about. If an American kid had said something like that, he would've come across as fresh and insolent. But my son's Israeli friend wasn't talking back or being chutzpadik.

    Leora - LOL! And in fact, the "super deluxe direct approach" is what finally did the trick...

    Abbi - Awesome! Talk about being dugri...

    Keren - As I responded to Leora above, that's pretty much what I did then... and still do when the occasion arises. I explain that even though they want to stay and even though we enjoy their company, right now I need them to leave.

    Toby - Good luck with the not-caring thing! :-)

    Chedva - Great story! She thought you were being rude, but any American would say that SHE was the rude one...


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