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Sunday, January 3, 2016

Should you hang with other English speakers? Yes, and here’s why.

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Having spent two evenings last week socializing exclusively with English speakers, I’m feeling guilty.  And lazy.

Why?  Well, Thursday night was my monthly English speakers meeting of children’s-book writers and illustrators (SCBWI*), and Friday was our community’s English Speakers Oneg Shabbat. 

At the book meeting, I mentioned the oneg, and one of the Israelis there asked, “Why only English speakers?” 

So then I felt ashamed.  And lazy, like I wasn’t making an effort.  And I almost felt racist (linguist?) for eliminating Hebrew speakers from my social circle so deliberately.  Why move to Israel and then spend so much time hanging out in English??? 

I didn’t even mention that we’re going to the annual Nefesh b’Nefesh Go North English-speaking Shabbaton next week.  Even more English !  Are we just obstinately refusing to integrate into Israeli society?

On the way home from my SCBWI meeting, and for the 2 days since, I’ve put more thought into it.  Because this is something all olim will have to balance in their lives somehow: how much time will you spend “out and about” mingling with the natives and how much time will you spend all huddled and insular with your Anglo “peeps”?

I’ve concluded that it’s not just about laziness.  Though your mileage may vary, here are 5 really good reasons from my own life that I deliberately spend time hanging out with English speakers…

1.  Israelis are busy

Israelis have lives here that are busy and well-established.  Sort of the way we did back in North America.  Many Israelis are too busy to stop and realize that we are here and we need a little extra TLC. 

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