I DON’T Know JR, I DON’T Own Spurs, and I DON’T Have an AccentApril 3, 2008
Being an Israeli Texan has it’s pluses. #1 has to be the misconceptions Israelis have about Texas. When I visited my cousin back in high school, she was teaching at a middle school somewhere in Israel, so she brought me to class with her (not sure why).
She introduced me to her students (thankfully she was a popular teacher so it made me cool by association) and told them I was from Texas. They had never met someone from Texas before, so they had a lot of questions.
I think the coolest question they asked me was if Texans milk their cows into their cereal bowls for breakfast (I couldn’t've made that up if I wanted to). The second most popular, which I get to this day, is if Texans ride their horses to school.
I tell them no, Texans aren’t primitive – they have horse-ridden carriages!
The reason I am telling you this is because the best experiences I have had in Israel is meeting new people. It’s not because I like meeting new people – I am actually quite shy in social situations where I know few or no people. It’s just that I LOVE the questions I get from people.
I’d like to share with you a typical conversation I have with people when they find out I am American. For the record, I have an Israeli accent. Most of the time, you can’t tell I’m not a native Israeli. Unless someone introduces me as being American, this conversation usually happens when someone says a word in Hebrew I don’t know or makes a cultural reference I don’t get, at which point I have to explain that I am not an idiot, it’s just that I am not a native. So here we go:
Them: You’re from America*? Where are you from? New York?
Them: Los Angeles?
Them: (Long awkward pause with confused look) Chicago?
Them: What else is there?
Me: Texas! (Note: I say Texas because is sounds WAY cooler than Houston.)
Them: There are Jews in Texas?! I didn’t know that!
Me: Not many. Only around 131,000.
Them: Are you from Dallas? Do you know J.R. Ewing?
Me: I’m from Houston. J.R was from Dallas, the actor himself, Larry Hagman, while born in Fort Worth, right by Dallas, actually lives in California.
Them: Houston? You’re from Houston? Houston – we have a problem! (Insert cheesy chuckle here.)
* Note to my Mexican friends (they’re actually FROM Mexico so I’m allowed to call them that!): I have been conditioned throughout my years working with you at camp. I personally say the US and not America – I know Central and South America are, in fact, America.
From there, each conversation goes in a different direction, but they usually come back to horses, cowboy hats, and spurs (ownership status update: I wish, yes, and no respectively).
I realize this sounds funny and uneducated, but I am telling you this for a reason: As uneducated as Israelis can be about Texas, non-Israelis can have many misconceptions about Israel as well. Next week I will post a bunch of the misconceptions I’ve heard about Israel in an attempt to educate.
Have any of you had weird questions asked of you when you moved countries? Do you have any questions about Israel that you need answered? Such as why do Israelis like to spread chocolate on their bread? Leave them in the comments!