Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Home? Or just back?

The outbreak of Oleh Self Righteousness Syndrome has some interesting ramifications, particularly in the way Americans perceive olim. The guilt that I have spoken about is evident in the way I am spoken to now that I am back in the States.

Usually what happens is this. I see Old Friend Or Acquaintance, and go over to say hello. With a big smile they say, "Hey OOS great to see you. Welcome home."

Then suddenly a look of the deepest fear/worry/shame/guilt (and perhaps just a touch off annoyance) overtakes their faces, and they quickly exclaim, "I mean welcome back. Of course, welcome back. Not home."

To anyone who thinks that OSRS is harmless these exchanges are exhibit A. Why have we undergone this uncomfortable way of greeting? Why the quick and nervous clarification of their salutation? Is it because they truly believe that America is not home?

Of course not. The awkwardness is a direct result of having been corrected countless times by smug olim who either say, "Back, not home" or portray an expression of the deepest loathing at the nerve of these Americans to equate the U.S. with home.

In fact, for numerous reasons I make an effort to repress my instinct to call America "home." But please, if you OFOA see me in the street don't be scared to call this country what it really is.

1 comment:

Bubbe said...

Zev,
You really write well!
I identify with the "home" comment - I have felt uncomfortable with some people.