A Slice of Life Here in Israel
by Romi Sussman
If you want to feel a slice of Israeli society, then go and have a mammogram done. (Sorry, guys. I guess you can go for a colonoscopy.) Recently, I took the day off of work in order to have a mammogram. While we are focused on terror and external threats, we also have to do the internal housekeeping that keeps us safe, and healthy.
Hala, located in Givat Shaul in Jerusalem, is one of the most elegant medical facilities. It’s run with patience, respect and privacy and is housed in a beautifully decorated and comfortable large space.
While I waited for my mammogram and then for the meeting with the doctor, I had to laugh. I rarely leave my own little bubble, working and living in Gush Etzion. But when I do, I love to be reminded how different things are here and how much Israelis regard each other as family.
One would assume, sitting in a waiting room to get the results of your mammogram, that people would be private, nervous, quiet.
As I checked in, the woman working there said, “Oh. Neve Daniel. Do you know….” and then rattled off a list of friends. We chatted for a few minutes about our mutual acquaintances.
A few minutes after I sat down in the spacious waiting room, a 75 year old woman started waving her phone around and saying, “Does anyone know how I move this picture on my phone to send it to my daughter?”
“I don’t know honey,” replied her seat mate.
“Oh, no problem,” said the young woman on the other side of the room. “Come here mamale and we’ll do it together.”
And so they sat together, saving pictures of grandkids and then sending them to the daughter.
Next, there was the Russian woman in the corner watching a video on her phone – with full volume. We were all privy to the exciting adventure, and she even showed it around a few times (even though I don’t think anyone else in the room knew Russian!).
Finally, there was the policy that they’ve recently implemented at Hala to give you a number. Rather than using your name, they explained to me, they give out numbers and they call your number when they need to.
“Number 376,” they called a few times. Ok, I thought to myself. That’s a fine system.
Or, it was, until they started interchanging my number and my name whenever they felt like it. “376?” they called one minute. “Romi?” they called the next.
Well, there went that formality and secrecy.
And as I checked out, the woman working there said, “Oh Neve Daniel. Are you on the really windy side or the slightly less windy side?” Laughing, I replied, “The slightly less windy side. “Oh,” she said. “The vatikim (old timers). Good for you. That’ll help you integrate better.”
And with that, and my clean bill of health in my hand, I walked out of the office as I heard, “Number 381?” “Linda?” behind me.
We are, after all, family in this crazy place we call Israel. And that we call home.
Romi Sussman heads the content writing department for a technology and digital consulting company. Originally from Los Angeles, California, she made Aliyah from Potomac, MD and is raising six boys in the hills of Gush Etzion. She frequently blogs about life in Israel and her experiences over the last decade.