Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Can you say "adaptability"? Sure. I knew you could.

Yom chamishi, 28 Tevet 5770.

[The] susceptibility of an organism to...become suited to or fitted for its conditions of environment...

One of the key ingredients in a successful aliyah is adaptability.  If I may spend a moment or two in the "bli ayin hara, puh-puh-puh" place, I'd like to brag about my kids' success in bringing this spice to our aliyah.

 Lots of Sports Guy's friends have big screen TVs, and some are even equipped with the techno-magic called "Slingbox."  By this means, the young hopefuls are not deprived of major staples of American existence, such as NFL football playoffs.

Frequenters of this blog know that Sports Guy lives, breathes, eats, sleeps, coaches and plays American football, with occasional breaks for basketball and paintball.  (His rebbeim and teachers are well aware of this fact.)  And he is a foaming-at-the-mouth Baltimore Ravens fan.

So his father and I suffer the occasional pang of regret that we have not given him the world (i.e., Slingbox and TV).  We don't have Slingbox because it's not in the budget.  We don't have TV for various reasons, among them that one pays a television tax in Israel for even owning (but not necessarily hooking up) the device.

But Sports Guy and his brothers share their parents' idealism about living in Israel:  It's not about transplanting the USA to Middle Eastern soil.  It's about living in The Holy Land, while still maintaining some of what makes us uniquely us.  For Sports Guy, that means following the NFL Playoffs, but in a humbler manner.

  I wish you could have seen Sports Guy sitting hunched in front of that computer monitor, watching and waiting with bated breath as his Ravens made those little black bars move across the screen toward the Patriots' goal.  And the way he pumped his fist in the air, and danced around the room like every other crazy sports fan, when his team scored a touchdown...  it would have brought a tear to your eye, the way this kid could act like he was having a party, in front of that 12-inch screen.  It certainly brought a tear to mine -- along with a prayer of gratitude.

I knew I had experienced one of those rare "great mothering moments" when I overheard him telling his father: "...and Ema found a radio broadcast of the game, without me even asking!"

Adaptability.  It is the key to truly living in Israel.  Sometimes, it looks like the Stunt Man, deciding at seventeen that ketchup tastes stupid if it's not made by Osem.  Sometimes, it looks like the Yeshiva Bochur, choosing his attire based on what looks more "settler," because that feels authentic to him.  Sometimes it looks just like Sports Guy, making himself contented with a computer-generated image and a satellite radio broadcast.

Bli ayin hara, puh-puh-puh: an expression used to remind the listener that although I'm about to brag about my children, I don't want to bring any jealousy (with its attendant evils) upon myself.  Call it a bubbemeisa -- and "old wives' tale" -- if you like.  I ain't messin' with tradition.
Aliyah: a term meaning "going up," in this case, a Jew immigrating to Israel
Rebbeim: rabbis, in this case, school rabbis, teachers of religious subjects
Osem: a major Israeli food manufacturer
Yeshiva Bochur: a young man who studies at a post-high school Jewish religious school
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