Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Chutzpa Challenge

Longtime friend JoeSettler posted here a few days ago about "The Brandeis Challenge" --

“The Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program at Brandeis University announces a competition, open to creative thinkers of every kind, to produce a major work in the English language that aims to change the way Jews think about themselves and their community.”

That's a rather lofty challenge.

However, as we say here in Israel -- "we need tachlis" -- give me something usable today, not after the chagim, but now.

Reading Treppenwitz's account of local Israeli Chuztpa almost boggles the mind.
Directly in front of me in line I noticed two women with a shopping cart that was 2/3 full. I politely pointed out that they were in the express line and that they had too many items. But instead of begging my forgiveness and going to another line, one of the women gave me a mirthless grin and said, "We're together... we each have ten items". The two of them stood with arms folded across ample bosoms, daring me to challenge their clever ploy.

I took another look at their shopping cart and my blood pressure started to climb as I noticed that just the items on top approached the stated number... there must have been two or three times that number of things buried underneath.

This is the moment of truth that most immigrants are intimately familiar with. Do you marshal your limited Hebrew and make a fuss... risking having unhelpful idiots around you jump in with "What's the big deal... just let them go... it isn't worth all the yelling"? Or do you sit quietly and feel like the biggest frayer in the world because somebody is flouting the rules and wasting your valuable time in the process?
(read how Trep cleverly dealt with the situation here)
Granted, I see this all the time...but kudos to Trep for dealing with it.

Therefore, I'd like to draw your attention (and Trep's) to something really important. Finally, someone is willing to put up -- The Chuptza Challenge! Forget prolific position papers about the Jewish Community at large -- there's barely any common denominator to even start with. This guy is offering SIXY THOUSAND dollars to provide the best solution to teach Israelis some politeness and manners.
A wealthy Israeli businessman is offering a cash prize for initiatives that instill manners in his native land.

Ronny Maman, who recently returned to Israel after 18 prosperous years in San Diego, announced this week that he will give $60,000 to anyone who comes up with a way to make the Jewish state more considerate.

"We should all be helping each other," Maman, 55, told Yediot Achronot, deploring what he described as the spread of chutzpah in Israel in recent years.

Maman invited contestants to send their proposals to his Web site, www.derech-eretz.org. The winner will be selected next year, and Maman said he may also publish a book with the best 100 ideas.

"The intention is to create awareness, which in turn will create action, and then everything will change," he said. (JTA)
I'll get right to work on this challenge, as who can't use an extra $60K? Granted, Israeli child care and school tuition rates haven't spiked to US levels, but I assume it's not too long till US Jews start doing this to their kids, and sending them off to Israel.


Report: Many U.S. Parents Outsourcing Child Care Overseas



Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

11 comments:

Ye'he Sh'mey Raba Mevorach said...

I just read Treppenwitz's full account and I must say he's a clever guy. Kudus. But posting stories like this, IMHO are a LOT more damaging to the push for aliyah from the West than Jameel's adventure in Hevron. Another friend of my posted his take on getting his driver's license (he's been here less than 2 months). It's funny, and all of us here in Israel can identify with it, but what message does it give to you people who DON'T live here? Mayleh a few random shots in Hevron but to deal with pushy obnoxious inconsiderate rude people every day? It's not really like that here. I can tell stories all day long about consideration from bus drivers, clerks, checkout girls, bankers, taxi drivers, random drivers who give us lifts, cleaning people and yes, even the Arab guys in our local makolet. Life in Israel is NOT one big frayerfest for people from the West and that's the truth.

Now move here and make it even better.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

"Now move here and make it even better."

Perhaps I should add that to my posting signature...

bec said...

ye'he sh'mey raba mevorach is right. if i had realized just how rude these israelis can be in the supermarket, i for one would never have packed up my house in new york and made aliyah this summer. i'm actually going to call nefesh b'nefesh right now and tell them that it's quite a racket they have going on here--convincing naive americans to move here and then sticking them in the middle of grand central rude.
i am *so* outta here.

:D

Scraps said...

I loved that Trep story! It's just funny. :)

And I forwarded the Chutzpa Challenge to a relative in Israel; who knows, maybe they'll come up with something...and who couldn't use another 250K NIS?

the sabra said...

please spread the word about http://babyaliza.com/

tafka PP said...

Yehey Shemay-

but to deal with pushy obnoxious inconsiderate rude people every day? It's not really like that here. I can tell stories all day long about consideration from bus drivers, clerks, checkout girls, bankers, taxi drivers, random drivers who give us lifts, cleaning people and yes, even the Arab guys in our local makolet. Life in Israel is NOT one big frayerfest for people from the West and that's the truth.

To my mind, the truth is, you shouldn't have to "tell stories" about consideration. Latent attitudes of inconsideration, selfishness within a society which regularly shafts you by default is part and parcel of the Aliya experience, and huge numbers of olim return to their native lands often because they *haven't* been prepared for this fact adequately by their shiny happy shaliah.

Dafka, Jameel is doing the Jewish world a service by telling the truth about the land we call home.

Ye'he Sh'mey Raba Mevorach said...

tafka you DAVKA have to tell stories about consideration. See these websites: www.partnersinkindness.org and http://www.traditionofkindness.org. That's how you change the world, the WORLD, not just Israel.

My mother a"s always said that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. I find that if I am firm, and insistant, but nice, I actually do get further here (most of the time.)

And my objection is painting the whole country black. I've been in situations where, because I've cultivated a shopkeeper and he knows me, he is much more patient and not rude - especially compared to a one-time customer.

Shlichim have to emphasize that "Israel ain't America" - the culture is DIFFERENT. For example, after 20 years here I still feel like a newbie when I'm dealing with the school system because it is so totally outside what I know and experienced in the US. But they don't have to be NEGATIVE about it. That's my point.

Ben Bayit said...

have to totally disagree with yehey shmey rabba. Nefesh B'Nefesh convinces people to make the decision to immigrate to Israel the way they would decide on a laudry detergent brand or what set of underwear to wear this morning. In order to have a successful klita one must understand that you will become an immigrant, that Israel is not the USA (and not a representative democracy for whom that is important) and that Eretz Yisrael niknayt al yedei yissurin. Everyone should have their own ideal "mental vision" of Jerusalem, but anyone who tries to sell Israel as a bed of roses is setting up people for failure.

Ye'he Sh'mey Raba Mevorach said...

I think I said that, sort of. Or something in between. I believe that you can prepare people realistically for Aliyah without denegrating the Land or its People. Which, by the way, is an aveirah all by itself. I'm not advocating whitewash, but one can tell the truth in different ways. One can say, for example, that a person is a skinflint and a miser, or that he is extremely thoughtful about each penny he spends and considers each expense carefully. Yes, Eretz Yisrael (and Torah, and Olam Haba) are acquired through struggle (or suffering) but that does not mean that everyone here is rude and nasty! I'm saying let's be careful of how we say things, I'm not talking about whitewash, hiding things or chash veshalom outright lies.

I came here more than 20 years ago so I have no idea what NBN says or doesn't say to potential olim.

tafka PP said...

Fantastic, yehey shemey- you've just "dafka" proved my point with this...

I've been in situations where, because I've cultivated a shopkeeper and he knows me, he is much more patient and not rude- especially compared to a one-time customer.

"Realistic" IS negative sometimes. That's life...everywhere. And in that respect, Israel is no different, and certainly not more special!

Ye'he Sh'mey Raba Mevorach said...

Hey chevreh! I know there's work to do here. No one I know is perfect. What I'm objecting to is the "tarring-everyone-with-the-same-brush" attitude about Israel. Should I start telling stories about rude people and appalling service in the US?

My point is to make the effort to BE and SEE positive, or at least look at the negative differently.

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