You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘Jewish Standard Time’ (JST for short) which means running ‘fashionably late’ for just about everything. Is this acceptable? Yes or no depending on the situation. After making aliyah you will encounter a few new TIME-RELATED changes in the way things are done. Depending on your lifestyle, you may love these changes or they may drive you batty.
WEEKEND. Typically, in the Western mindset, we have a WEEKEND which is Saturday and Sunday. Once arriving in Israel there will be a bit of a shift. Friday is often a half-day of work and school. On Saturday shops and restaurants are closed (I cannot speak for EVERY establishment in all geographic locations. Establishments that are Shomer Shabbos are closed until Shabbos ends). SUNDAY FEELS LIKE MONDAY because it is back to work and back to school. This has been one of the hardest adjustments for me because of my Western mentality. ‘Weekend’ more of a pseudo-Friday/Saturday than Saturday/Sunday. (*Regardless of your religious affiliation or how you spend your time from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown, this will be a switch on which days will be considered ‘weekend’).
GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC OFFICES. Whether bank, post office, or doctor. Office hours are not the same every day. For example, a pharmacy might be open on Sunday from 8-1:30, close for lunch, and re-open from 4 until 7. On Monday the hours are 9-1:30 with no late afternoon hours. On Tuesday the hours might be 8-5. Then there are the days when they decide to close early without warning and you’re irate because that prescription NEEDED to get filled and you arrived during the posted hours of operation. Why hanging the proverbial ‘gone fishing’ sign on the door and leaving early is acceptable, I don’t know, but that’s life here.
STARTING ON TIME. Some things start promptly and other things….don’t. I can’t tell you what is considered ‘fashionable late’ and under which circumstances but I recall a situation during my first year in Israel. My daughter’s school was having a mother-daughter evening event that was called for 8:00 pm. I arrived at 7:50. by 9:00 one or two other people by 9:30 arrived at the auditorium. By 10:15 I think the event started. We got home around midnight. I was displeased. If they knew they were starting at 10:15, they should have said so! Besides, this was ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. Bedtimes for children are another topic for another day…
LAST MINUTE NOTIFICATIONS. I prefer to have advanced notice and not be told last minute about something. I am not describing a last-minute change of schedule which can inevitably happen under any circumstance. I am thinking specifically of school-related scenarios. For example, it is Thursday. The shopping has already been done. Little Moshe comes home from gan (preschool) with a note. He is the ‘Shabbos Abba’ and tomorrow he is expected to bring 34 treats for the class (yes, that many kids). Seriously? Could I not have been told about this on Wednesday, if not sooner? This is an inconvenience to my time. Plus, if I am sticking to any kind of budget I do not want to spend more than I have allocated. Similar scenarios are: ‘Imma we have a field trip in two days and I need 60 shekalim’ or ‘we’re having a party and I need 10 tomorrow for pizza’.
QUIET HOURS. Officially, but rarely enforced are ‘quiet hours’ between 2-4 where one should not be making noise to disturb the neighbors. These hours are when practicing to be like Jimmy Page with fully amplified speakers would be a no-no. One should always be considerate of the neighbors no matter what hours of the day, but you may find within certain demographics it is best to try to keep the volume down.
HOLIDAYS. With the exception of Rosh Hashana which is always two days, Yom Tov is ONE DAY. There is ONE SEDER. There is no longer a ‘first seder and second seder but THE SEDER. Some of you may be sad. I, on the other hand, am ecstatic. I love my ONE SEDER. I like having more chol hamoed vacation days and less yom days. You can be pleased or displeased with this change, but this is the way it is.
REGA and SAVLANUT. My post on time would not be complete without mentioning REGA (wait) with the accompanying hand gesture and SAVLANUT (patience). Israelis will say this to you all the time. I can’t describe this cultural phenomenon accurately. It is something to be experienced.
Thanks for reading.
Karen, The Klutter Koach
June 3, 2019
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