Britons chat about the weather, sports, business, and politics. Israelis talk about these too, but another frequent topic of conversation is about the route travelled to get here: “Where are you from, originally? When did you come? Why did you come.” And these deeply personal stories are, frequently, fascinating.
These stories reflect the melting pot that this country is. There are some common themes, but it’s the amazing variety that hooks me in. Some came to find themselves, some to find religion, and some to lose it. Some came to find a spouse and start a family. Some came to volunteer in times of war. Some came because their spouse wanted to come. Some came because their parents brought them. Some came to escape persecution and danger under repressive regimes. Some came to give meaning to their zionism and to build (or help build) the Jewish State. There are stories of chance and heroism and glory and failure and poignant disappointment.
But there is a follow up question that applies to some people, perhaps disappointed that the reality does not match the dream: “Why did you stay?” And the best explanation I have heard so far is this:
I came to Israel because I was a Zionist. I stayed because of the mortgage.
Israelis are very pragmatic…