a different side of Israel

Not Jewish?! What are you doing here? (Part Ten)

Jill Cartwright

Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven, Part Eight, Part Nine

Shalom to all that (2) by Jill Cartwright

In part 9, Jill continues to say her farewells, her departure from work is next and our heroine tries to understand this failure syndrom she is going through, better know to locals as jewish guilt…

Sitting opposite David Landau in his office, my announcement that I would soon be leaving was met with an almost knowing smile as if he were just waiting for this time to come. Like he’d seen it all before. Like he’d seen the lines of young Israelis’ “other halves” come in for jobs, try to make their lives and relationships work, until undoubtedly it would all unravel and the European partner would fly off home and forget all about that crazy and rude place where they lived for a while. Why did I feel like a failure?

It was almost like the time I called him up and asked for a few days’ break, the day after a suicide bomber had ripped through the large glass-fronted bar at the end of my street and the night had been broken by wails of sirens, red flashing lights and the screams of human panic.

“Can’t take the heat, huh?” David had said as I asked for the time off and apologised for the late notice. But maybe something in the sound of my “No” worked in my favor and the next day my friend Shahar and I took off for a few days in Turkey, to a resort where we found ourselves surrounded by English tourists of the sort that give everything English a bad name and Israelis constantly checking their cellphones to see what was going on in Israel.

My other colleagues also greeted the news of my departure as a kind of confirmation of what they always knew was going to happen. “I never really understood what you were doing here in the first place,” one of them said to me and, “Well we all thought you were a bit crazy to be here anyway,” said another.

It made me wonder what had driven me to stay. Who on earth was I trying to prove something to? I had felt it, this great sense of human duty to stay here, to take a stand against something, maybe against fear, maybe even against terror in a small way, or maybe it was just my own rebellious nature, stubbornly insisting on doing something that to others looked slightly insane and not to be done.

I guess at Haaretz English Edition, where there were either ambitious American Jewish interns who come for a short time or jaded Anglo veterans who had come here, as they tend to remind everyone on a regular basis, at a time when Israel was a paradise of socialist values, full of happy, song-singing pioneers, streets of sand and just the one television station, I was something of a misnomer.

One of my fellow sub-editors, however, said to me when I told him I was leaving, “Oh that’s a shame, you were quite an asset here.”
“Really?” I said, surprised. Positive employee feedback was an alien concept at Haaretz – the most one could hope for was an ego-crushing bellowing at from David (“The more he swears and the higher the decibels, the more he likes you,” I was comforted on many occasions of looking suitably ego-crushed), and training consisted of a “you can sit over there” from someone who had far more important things to do.

So mostly I just tried to catch up, keep up and read up, and of course had the frequent tendency to slip up….


  1. Sounds like something you’d see on T.V. or maybe in the movies like Spiderman and Superman. All I can say is draw your boundries carefully and know what you “own” (where critizism is concerned)and what you don’t. It never ceases to amaze me, what “superiors” will attempt to hang on their underlings! It can be a humorously sad story to watch them “chip off their own feet”

  2. Great to see that you have resumed telling your story.

  3. Unfortunately, non-Jews have a big problem here. Getting on a healthcare program, for instance, is a big problem, especially for (non-Jewish) women who marry Israelis and then get pregnant. All these marriages to Ukranian, Thai women, etc., are a good example. Until civil marriage is allowed then it will continue to be a problem. The recent upholding of the law of non-Israelies not being allowed to live with their Israeli spouses (particularly slanted toward Palestinians married to Israeli Arabs) simply makes life difficult. And converting to Judaism is an even bigger challenge, as only an Orthodix conversion is truly accepted here.

    Good luck in whatever the final outcome will be!

  4. What is an orthodox conversion? Is that where you must deny Yahshua/Jesus as Messiah? Somehow, that really dosn’t make much sense to me. After all, it is my faith in Yahshua/Jesus of the tribe of Judah that has drawn me to Judaism in the first place.

    I can understand upholding such law from a secular point of view with what is going on there; my question is…Does this law extend to Jews who marry non-Jews and live elsewhere?

  5. Oh yeah, I feel like the brunt of that “Heere’s your sign” comedian. Israeli…Jew. Different titles, different definitions. I think it was the “(Non-Jewish) women who marry Israeli’s” that confused me. Then too, it was not specified to be civil law or Jewish law. So I guess it really is my sign, cause I still have the same questions.

  6. I’m definitely not Orthodox, Virgina, and wish sometimes there was a Santa Claus! Jesus was a 100% religious Jew from the day he was born till the day he died. The Last Supper was the Passover Seder, which he officiated at.

    What happened after his death, a lot by Shaul ha Tarshit (Paul) changed a lot of things, primarily to entince non-Jews to become Christians. The rest is history.

    Even though I’m not Orthodox, however, I don’t think the “Rabbunum” in Israel would recognize a convert who believes in Jesus. Too many things have happened (involving negative relations between Jews and Christians) to enable this to happen.

    Be well, Ed

  7. I’m not Jewish either, but some day I hope to convert. And, when I do, it will be to Orthodox and NOT beliving in Jesus or St Paul, however you like to dress them up. They were not Jewish. No Jew can believe in a man god, the easter bunny and santa claus! They were definately pagans who believed in human sacrifice. And if Jesus was the sacrificial lamb, how could he be at his own sader? Never mind the lamb did not forgive sins!

  8. Thank you for that Ed and Edwin. Thankfully, true “conversion” is not of man. True conversion is of God, who is sovereign even over the hearts of man.
    Jesus was sent to “the lost tribes of Israel”. Judah was the one tribe who was not “lost”, but remained to be David’s lamp always before God in Jerusalem. If the only light from that lamp is Jesus, it is enough. (This is not to say that God’s sacrifice was not for Judah, scripture tells quite the contrary) I personally don’t believe one can “convert” into another tribe. One is either Jewish or they’re not. Accepting the laws/commands of God, given to Moses for all Israel, does not make one Jewish. We can be one in heart, one in spirit, but the people we are born in the flesh to will remain as long as the flesh remains.

  9. Virgina, you are wrong. Judaism is a religion and not a race. Anyone can convert, its just a case of practicing a different religion and has nothing to do with the ‘flesh’.

    The bible itself speaks of many Israelites marrying ‘outsiders’ that became members of the ‘tribe’. So in that case who really is a Jew?

    And anyway, more to the point, who really cares anyway?

  10. Edwin,
    You are both right and wrong. Jesus could not hold a seder and be the sacrificial lamb. What is the answer. The last supper was not a seder. It was merely the last supper he had with his disciples. He was crucified the next day and died at the time of the killing of the lambs for passover. That is how he could fulfill the prophecy. And true sacrifices do not forgive sins. Only God forgives sins. Sacrifices were required as a penalty. It was a cost. Also, there are some of us, who you would call christians, that not only believe that Jesus was not God but that he never was and is not now. He was a man, born of a virgin as it says in Isaian, that lived a perfect life and was a Torah observant Jew his entire life. So was Paul. And many of us don’t believe in Easter, Christmas and easter bunnies and besides, the name easter and the celebration is from paganism. Check any good encyclopedia and it will uphold that point.

  11. Hannah,

    If I am wrong, Lord knows it would not be the first time! I am totally open to being wrong and am not at all offended by your saying so. In fact I really appreciate you caring enough to present a different perspective. However, I think it best for the sake of open dialogue, rather than judging the “right” or “wrong” of it, let’s just say, “It is my understanding that…” and let God be the Judge. Who knows maybe we’ll each be “enlightened” with a better understanding. That being said, it is my understanding that Judaism is the religion of the Jewish people. All Jewish people do not adhere to Judaism. Just as all who claim to be Christian to not follow the teaching and commands of Jesus. (If so, negitive relations mentioned by Ed would not have occured) Judaism and Christianity do not oppose one another, in fact to be Christian one must recognize and accept Judaism (scripture, not all rabbi’s translations).

  12. Blimey – how is all this above related to Jill’s postings? I think Jill is pretty secular so all this seems a bit irrelevant, she seems to be getting on fine in Isarel as a non-Jew.
    One thing – I don’t see how, if civil marriage is recognised in Israel, (i.e you got a civil marriage done in Cyprus or soemwhere outside the country), spouses of Israeli’s (who are not Jewish) are not entitled to basic rights… This is not the case in ANY other country on earth. Health care is mainly private anyway, no?

  13. Marriage is not a “civil” institution! If one of the marriage partners is Jewish, the other should be treated as such. If that is not the way it is, I think your lawmakers need to take a closer look at the institution as intended by it’s founder. And yes this has everything to do with Jill’s postings, read again from the begining, you’ll see, it’s the “heart” of the story! Not that Jill needs our input mind you; I do not see her as any more “secular” than the rest of us. Who is the judge of another’s walk? I’d be real careful with that one, my friend, it can have an aweful bite!

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