My first Israeli breakfast, compliments of the Brown Boutique Hotel, in Tel Aviv, was at Tazza D’Oro in Neve Tzedeck. While I was waiting for my meal, the couple sitting at the table next to me struck up a conversation. If I had any nerves coming to Israel for my first time, they had disappeared. Everyone is friendly, kind, and helpful.
This young man was originally from California, and his shockingly beautiful girlfriend, a born Israeli. They had met several years ago on a kibbutz. He told me it took him several years to convince her that he was the right man for her. I asked the guy: “How long have you spoken Hebrew?” He replied, “It is still very hard for me.” I asked, “Did you go to Hebrew school as a child?’ He said, “No, I never went.” I told them that I had gone, and that I can read Hebrew, better with vowels. And I said that I wonder why they hadn't taught us conversational Hebrew, in addition to learning how to read the prayers.
And what this native Californian turned Israeli said to me, was as poignant as anything that I have heard or read from the American political talking heads on the subject of Diaspora Jews vs Israeli Jews. He said this:
“That would have been the best if they had taught conversational Hebrew to Jewish Americans starting with the children in Hebrew school. There would be so much more communication and not such a divide. In my opinion, this is the main divide between Diaspora Jews and Israeli Jews. We would be as one. We could be as one.”