You’re too Israeli to be Polish

Well, that’s an interesting turn of the events.

I have always considered myself Polish. Born and bred. Full stop. You can ask absolutely anyone that has even come in contact with me outside the borders of the Republic of Poland. It’s actually interesting why it’s called a republic even though it’s a democracy (just a thought).

In England, at some point, people mistook me for being British. Born and bred. No way, Jose! Why exactly did that mistake occur, I don’t know. I’m guessing it was due to my accent, because my conduct very much gave away the fact that I wasn’t one of them. In other words, even mostly obstinate person could have spotted that there was a very non-English fire stirring inside me and it just waited for the opportunity to come out and play with the world.

Nine years I have spent being a good girl (with ups and downs of course), finishing university, working, building my life (though it always felt like building a house on sand) and going through an unusually late rebellion, the outcome of which wasn’t, sadly, a significant spiralling tattoo on my body (the one that would start around my collar bone and end on my thigh), but, you know, you can’t have everything. I have learned my lesson in a hard way. Instead of paying for therapists and other sort of what-nots, I embarked upon the journey of healing through singularly the only thing that I really believe I am best at doing – achieving. Knowing that London was a period of transition only, my determination swelled up and made me understand that the sooner my stay was over the better. I often get asked, why I disliked London so much? After all, isn’t it easier than living in Israel? Firstly, I always want to reply that I don’t have the concept of easier. Either something is simply difficult, or I will make it more difficult sensing that the most challenging way will bring the most growth. The fact that I later want to punch myself on the face for creating extra stress doesn’t stop me from perpetuating the pattern. Instead, I reply that all I have left there are memories, which I simply wish I could forget. Yet, I wouldn’t be where I am now as a person, if it wasn’t for the “London saga”.

Then the opportunity came to join the MASA program. At that age, a single over-achieving professional doesn’t normally leave her job to pursue the life that she has, literally, nothing but dreamed of. There was absolutely nothing tangible about it apart from the plane ticket and the place at the program, which, due to my unfortunate Polish passport I still had to fight for with fangs and claws. After all, at that age your life should be organised, no? You can’t be a bum. By then I should have had my shit together. Joke’s on me. I don’t think I know exactly what is happening even now, at the age of full and round thirty (as of last Pesach). Mazal tov to me.

I have been in Israel now for more than a year and a half and I am still dealing with bureaucracy, so by no means I would call myself Israeli. Even after I make Aliyah, please G-d, I would struggle not to stutter before saying that. Why? Well, I simply wasn’t born here. So as much as I love this country, despite or rather because of its idiosyncrasies, I will always remain Polish, somewhere there inside me. My amazing father has a Polish citizenship, but that doesn’t make him Polish any more than what his passport says. He was born Nigerian, is Nigerian and will, chas v’shalom (may he have a long life) die a Nigerian.

Similarly I, the hopefully successful product of attempted parenthood performed by two very diverse individuals, believe that my upbringing will very much stay with me. That outlook on my persona, however, has been increasingly challenged recently. The only thing essentially that gives me away, apparently, is my foreign accent when I speak Hebrew. I am quite positive on this front though. I got rid of the Polish accent while speaking English, I will certainly adopt the Israeli accent at some point. It’s all about determination and, should that fail, an unplanned plan B, C or D would surely follow.

What, nonetheless, puzzles me is that I have encountered a increasing number of incidents, when following dealing with people in my regular manner i.e. saying whatever is on my mind at that moment and then softening the blow by winking and saying that it’s fine, because I’m Polish – people continue looking at me strangely. While they continue eying me, I reassure them that it’s a normal Polish way of being straightforward, and obnoxious, and harsh, and prickly… and yes, I prefer the informality of Israeli institutions, where you can, not unlike in Poland, go to the office and shake up a clerk or two to make sure that things get done. So what? I’m a nice person after all. So why bother about the packaging? It’s O.K., Poles are like that. “No”, they answer. “They aren’t. You’ve just turned Israeli.”

I guess I’ve finally arrived home.

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