The imprint of American culture on Israel is everywhere I turn here. It gives me comfort when there are days I’ve maximized my patience and virtue with the sometimes not so polite, graceful, or accommodating peoples. Likewise, I am still somewhat new to Israeli culture a veritable melting pot of everything Western, Eastern and in between. Literally.
While bourbon is distinctly American David Zibell of Golan Heights Distillery seems to be making progress, doing it right, and making good spirits.
He is seeing success where the IBL, the Israel Baseball League sputtered and then failed a few years back.
While it was nice to see a game on a dusty and bumpy field. The talent and support was just not up to par.
Yet, the beer is. Over the past ten years the industry, the demands from consumers, the connoisseurs, the quality of the beer, and the availability of homemaking kits and resources has seen interest, entrepreneurs, and revenue from beer sales boom.
Add to the beer better burger joints: from Burger’s Bar to Burgerim to Magic Burger and yes, even Buddha Burger the American taste--with slight modifications in flavor--is comforting. Small, small steps--leaps for the Israeli mentality-- in customer service and expectations are providing better experiences not just for Americans or olim, but native Israelis as well.
Regular and digital access to American sports events and competition is available at several local watering holes.
The IFL, the Israel Football League has solid backing from Robert Kraft and eager ex-patriots and Israelis who enjoy the game enough to hit each other. Hard. I personally root for the Black Swarm(hey, I like the underdog!), though a championship season seems not in the near future.
There is more English access to medical information, to products and services, and of course menus at cafes and eateries. English speakers, and Americans, in particular are bringing creativity, passion, and commitment to the land and it is contagious. Like the original American pioneers--and many of the original Israeli pioneers--so many came here, and remain here-- by choice!
Bruce Weber, an American ex-Pat, has brought Disc Golf to Israel and is the current Chairman of the Israel Disc Golf Association. He helped form an Amuta(NPO) and was granted 310 dunam to place the first Pro Level Disc Golf course in the Eshkol region. Bruce’s enthusiasm for the game extends beyond the course where he aims to share a sport that requires little maintenance and infrastructure, yet offers so much to its participants:
“Disc golf teaches kids values and ethics” says Bruce, “It teaches personal responsibility, hand-to-eye coordination, listening and silence, the understanding of a queue, patience, no smoking, no littering, respect for equipment, respect for parks and land, respect for competition, respect for teachers, respect for water, and discipline with developing lifelong skills.” Bruce’s vision is to push this sport into schools nationwide.
Meanwhile, basketball reigns supreme where American-Israeli Coach David Blatt is seeking to bring a 1st NBA Championship to Cleveland with arguably the best player in the world, LeBron James.
TV shows and movies and style and fashion and of course talent and reality shows remain a significant American influence on Israeli culture and consumption.
And while I look forward to attending the US All Star vs. Israel lacrosse game in Ashkelon at the end of June the jury is still out as to whether this Native American sport will interest Israeli youth, competitors, investors, and crowds. With a Facebook page of more than 10,000 likes I hope they continue to gain support and grow swiftly.
The bottom line: the history of Israel is being written in the present. And, if there are good burgers, good beer, and good whiskey, I’ll be here to witness. And enjoy it. And cheer.