Sunday, October 14, 2012

Olive Hillel

If you know me, you know that my hometown is a very important part of my life.  Olive Hill is a tiny stain on the map of eastern Kentucky near West Virginia.  Although I often make fun of it, I'm so thankful to be from there; it shaped my world-view more than I can describe and provided me with a unique upbringing that I would never want to trade.  It's a small town, less than two thousand people, where a "big trip" means you went to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee-- not that there is anything wrong with that (except everything).  With that, you can understand the difficulty in expressing how odd and exciting it was riding up an Israeli coastal highway with someone else who once called Olive Hill home. 

Olive Hill: The city that never sleeps...
through church.
Yesterday, I did just that.  With the help of a science teacher from my middle school, I was put in touch with her brother and his family who live in Herzilya-Pituach, about twenty minutes north of Tel Aviv.  The husband, an Air Force retiree now Super Dad, takes care of three lovely children and is married to a Management Counselor for the US Embassy.  We went to their home in a truly breathtaking neighborhood filled with diplomats and foreign executives that starkly contrased the busy, grimy streets of Tel Aviv.  I recognize this is no ordinary Israeli suburb, but greatly appreciated the opportunity to see such a "normal", albeit extravagant, area compared to the insanity of Rehov Allenby and Nachalyat Benyamin (busy streets near me).

Herzilya: Hood livin'.
To revel in our American-ness we ordered Domino's since there are surprisingly few American chains in Israel.  The pizza still had Israeli elements to it though; the seasoning packets contained zaatar instead of Parmesan or red pepper flakes, and the "pepperoni" was made from...well, we don't know.  After much speculation, we reluctantly concluded goose.  Or buzzard.  Maybe stork.  It was good, but definitely not kosher.

It was fascinating to hear about their lives.  The three children have essentially never lived in America.  All rather young, they each consider a different place "home".  Cuba.  Japan. Now Israel. The youngest, less than five years old, helped the mother with her Hebrew when she placed the order. Too cool. We chatted about the seemingly endless list of Israeli holidays, the misery of grocery shopping (he had a similar experience to my yogurt debacle with cottage cheese), the plight of the Palestinians, and West Carter High School football.

The world has never felt bigger.  The world has never felt smaller.

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