Thursday, June 22, 2006

Only In Israel #3: Class, the Israeli Way

Akiva Werber is the Head of the Jewish Agency's Immigration and Absorption Department's Division for English-speaking Countries. Several years ago I heard him speak at a Tehilla chug (meeting) in Queens. I vividly remember him explain how Israelis always “round of the edges” but still ultimately they “get the job done.” This is something American Olim really have to adjust to. As Americans we are used to things being done professionally. But doing things the “professional way” doesn’t always make the most sense.

Take for example the Israeli Supreme Court Building (which I almost have a view of from my Rechavia Apartment window.) This building has been described as the “most beautiful building in all of Israel.” But to be perfectly honest I don’t see why. To me it looks like just a plain old square building. Yeah, it’s got some cones on top representing truth and justice and all that but compared to any U.S. Government building it is as ordinary as a parking garage.

To make matters worse, if you take the tour you will see that there was actually a contest held to design the building. They were some really incredible submissions from all over the world. But I seem to recall two Israeli brothers won the contest with the current design. And though it can’t hold a torch against structures like the Library of Congress or even the New York Public Library one thing can be said about the Israeli design. It is highly practical.

And thus the mentality of the Israeli is defined. Appearance really isn’t the most important thing. What’s more important is practicality. Do what logically makes the most sense, not what “looks professional.”

This, of course, also applies to Israeli weddings. And so I found myself at a Simcha in a beautiful wedding hall in Bnei Brak. There was even a waterfall with live fish in the hall. The table was set ever so elegantly. I found three forks on the left side of my plate and three knives on the right (all slight variation of one another). There was also another funny shaped fork along with a funny shaped spoon on top of the plate. (I’m not sophisticated enough to know what those were for.) There were two glasses (one for wine) and a nicely folded silk napkin. It was truly exquisite and very classy.

Then there was the Pepsi.

Think about it. Does it make any sense to pour soda into clear glass bottles with wide open necks? Why? So they can sit there and go flat! Plus then they have to cut up lemons for all the diet sodas. And maybe people don’t want lemon in their soda anyway. It makes so much more sense just to put the Pepsi bottles on the table as is. It’s just more practical.

Well so much for class...



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I miss Eretz Yisrael so much that it hurts. This really brought back all of the memories for some reason.
And the little fork and spoon on the top of the plate are for dessert, duh.

4:38 PM  
Blogger Chai18 said...

funny post

12:04 AM  

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