Monday, January 27, 2014

The Times They Are Achanging.

I have lived in Israel as an Israeli for 25 years.  As a result, I have witnessed massive changes to Israeli society over this period, slightly more than one generation.  The way of life here is now significantly if not almost completely different than that of the Israel I came to. This change is most easily felt in the small details of life.  I have made a very partial list of then and now.

1.       Israel had one television and no cable system.  Everybody watched the same programs. Today, Israelis have access to an immeasurably greater quantity of channels, but not necessarily a better quality of programs.
2.      Phone lines were hard to get and involved significant waiting time and/or protection.  I walked and made phone calls from the public phone booth, like most people.
3.      The public phone booths themselves used phone tokens called assimonim in Hebrew, coins with a hole and slot in the middle that only were good for the phone.  People walked around with pocket filled with them so as to always be able to make a call and because, curiously, they were considered relatively protected against inflation.
4.      The city buses had no air conditioning.  Apparently, feeling hot was considered normal, not awful as it is today.
5.      The most popular car by far was the Subaru for no clear reason whatsoever.  For years, the brand had the highest resale value of any company.  Today, it is hard to find a Subaru in any parking lot.
6.      The post office had an ink pad for illiterate people to use by “inking” their fingerprint when signing documents.  I suppose that it exists today, but I haven’t seen anybody use it for a long time.
7.      Every Friday afternoon, on the only government station, an amusing rabbi would joyfully mumble a few words about the Shabbat reading and, slowly and clearly, would say “Shabbat Shalom”.  His name escapes me, but I actually went to a wedding conducted by him.  Ah, the days of cheerful rabbis.
8.      At the local grocery store, a macolit in Hebrew, it was common practice for the goods to be behind the desk of the grocer, meaning you had to ask for the item you wanted.  Shopping in one of those places was a real scary challenge for new immigrants.
9.      To the best of my knowledge, I don’t remember any problems finding parking in most places for one basic reason: the average person couldn’t afford a car.
10.   The shekel to dollar exchange rate was 1.5 (as compared to 3.5 today).  Neither makes any sense to me, to tell the truth.

As Bob Hope said, thanks for the memories.

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