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I DON’T Know JR, I DON’T Own Spurs, and I DON’T Have an Accent

April 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?

Me: Nope!

Them: Los Angeles?

Me: Nope!

Them: Miami?

Me: Nope!

Them: (Long awkward pause with confused look) Chicago?

Me: Nope!

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!

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12 comments

  1. I’ve had friends and others tell me (such as my history teacher in high school) about misconceptions they get regarding Oklahoma.

    An example, in my early days online, hanging out in AOL chatrooms, is that people wondered if we even had much at all in Oklahoma. Like, do we really have electricity? My history teacher used to always get concerned questions about living in teepees or Indians (Native Americans) attacking. He would always say yes, we have to be careful of Indian attacks.


  2. Chocolate on bread? Is that a breakfast food? What type of chocolate? Have to try that one.

    We moved from Texas (Ft Worth) to Florida. I had several students ask me why I talked so fast because wasn’t Texas country. Gee, my hometown is 5 times the size of where I live now.

    So how does driving in Israel compare to Houston? What foods do you miss? We miss good Mexican food and good BBQ. My favorite BBQ place is in Houston.

    Zack,

    I have never heard that about OK. Very funny. I attended an elementary school named for teacher killed in a Comanche raid. The only Indians I’ve ever had problems with in Oklahoma were my cousins.

    DH


  3. DH – specifically, it is Hashahar chocolate spread. It is the Israeli version of PB&J. You can use use Nutella, but it’s just not the same. 🙂 Chocolate spread on bread qualifies as any meal or snack at any time of the day.

    Israel and Houston are very different – I will be posting a bit about it. I miss Mexican food like you wouldn’t believe. I was in the US 3 times last year, but only Cali and NY, so I didn’t get any real BBQ (I had good Mexican in NY at a place where I was lucky that I spoke Spanish). Which is your favorite BBQ in Houston? For the record, Luther’s is no longer…

    I’ll definitely write about what stuff I miss. Let me know what else is interesting to know – and thanks for visiting!


  4. Most AMERICANS have misconceptions about Texas. I got so many comments and looks from New Yorkers.


  5. When I was in Cyprus, all anyone said to me was “Ah – Bush.” LOL.


  6. When I was in Texas, I did milk cows into my bowls of Grape Nuts…

    Actually, when I moved from L.A. to Texas, most of my Los Angeleno friends said, “What the hell are you thinking?” I told them I’m not moving to Texas; I’m moving to Austin. And the two are barely related.


  7. TalTalk,

    Chocolate on just about anything sounds great.

    Goode Co. Of course I’m in Florida where they think Sonny’s is good. The first thing anyone says about Sonny’s is they have good sweet tea & garlic bread. The first comment about a BBQ place should be the meat.

    My mom has a friend from high school who moved to Israel from Texas. She often emails/writes my mom. I always find reading her emails interesting.

    Benji,

    Most people have misconceptions about Texas.

    DH

    Cool,

    You are correct about Austin. Although, I love Chuys.

    DH


  8. Just so you understand the magnitude of the chocolate spread, check out this story: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/babylonbeyond/2008/02/who-moved-my-ch.html. The factory was broken into and over 100 tons (!!!) of the chocolate spread was stolen. Front page news in Israel.


  9. I may not be in Israel but stilling that much chocolate is a major crime in my book.


  10. texas has got the most scary and cool fish i have ever seen swimming in its rivers – the alligator gar! i thought it was just texan big-talking saying “aw we got the biggest this and the biggest that in texas”. but damn sure that is one huge, toothy fish!


  11. LOL Shmulik! EVERYTHING is bigger in Texas. So are the people. Houston has been the fattest city in the US for like 7 years now.


  12. I’m so happy to know I’m not the only one getting those remarks.
    I wasn’t 4 when we left Israel for the US and almost all I remembered from here was the chocolate spread and the Mitz Petel.
    In the army the guys would empty half a bread loaf (before they came sliced) and pour the chocolate spread into it.
    There are also some people who put a pachet of milk chocolate (Chocolate Para) in a pita and microwave it.



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