Some of us were born in Tel Aviv and some of us were born in New York City. Some of us speak Hebrew, some of us speak English, and some of us speak both. Some of us speak Hebrew with an American accent and some of us speak English with an Israeli accent. Some of us live in Los Angeles and some of us live in Rishon. Some of us go to school in Florida and some of us go to school in Ra’anana. Some of us go to the army and some of us go to college. Some of us like hamburgers, and most of us love hummus. But, all of us share one thing in common: we are American Israelis.
There is no strict definition of what it means to be an American Israeli. There is no criteria you have to meet. If you are an Israeli American, you know it, you feel it, you think it, you are it. It’s an unbounded love for Israel and a contribution to the Israeli connection: a phenomenon that I find quite unbelievable. The Israeli connection is simple yet complicated to explain, but basically, it’s a phenomenon that happens to American Israeli’s and Israelis where they find each other in different places around the world and network with each other. Whether they meet through a friend, a company, a meeting, or by accident is the magic of it. The magic of the Israeli connection only works because Israeli’s are friendly and very determined to help each other out. If someone sees that you are wearing clothing with Hebrew on it, or sees you at a music festival holding an Israeli flag, or hears you speaking Hebrew, or even recognizes the Shlomo Artzi song your humming to, there is an immediate connection and you instantly become just like family. You could be total strangers yet have this in explainable bond to one another. And with the help of social media, which Israeli’s love because we are very communicative people, you connect with each other and realize that you have like at least 18 mutual friends and your grandparents were in the army together or some crazy story like that. It makes me believe that these meetings can’t be just a coincidence, they’re almost faith, because as soon as you know it, the person who you once called stranger becomes the co-founder of a new start-up company with you, and you eat Shabbat dinners together every week.
Even though we all come from different places American Israelis all go through similar situations, but each of them are very unique. Most of us were connected to a certain town or a certain group of people and then we had to adjust and adapt to a new life in a new town or with a new group of people. Personally, I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and then I moved to Israel, thinking that I was going to live there my whole life, until my family needed to move to America. I was pretty young so I don’t remember a lot of the details and the struggles my family had to deal with, but there are many American Israelis who moved to America while they were in middle school or high school and the adjustment was really difficult, but trust me if you ask any of them about it they will tell you that it was the transition that helped them discover new things about themselves and really helped shape them into the people they are today.
Being an American Israeli means that you have the best of both worlds. On one side you have the support of America and a wonderful place you get to call home, but on the other side you know the homeland is always waiting for you across the ocean, ready to show you the best time of your life. You eat pancakes for breakfast and pita with shawarma for lunch. When you put your iPod on shuffle you’ll listen to both Taylor Swift and Idan Raichel. On a Friday night you’ll hit up the dance clubs and on a Saturday night you’ll go to a frat party. You watch Full House with your friends and Artuz 2 with your parents. You wear Ugg boots in the winter and Teva Naot in the summer. Everyone of us finds our own unique balance between American and Israeli, and most of the time we are proud to identify with each nationality. We share a common love for our home country and still find the space in our hearts to love the country that we call home. We are American Israeli’s and we love it.