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12 April 2012 (How Israelis Make Plans)

April 12, 2012

Yesterday unexpectedly turned out to be a cultural lesson for me on how Israelis Make Plans. And then Changes Them. And then Keep Each Other in Suspense By Not Knowing Until the Last Minute Whether the Plan Will Actually Happen or Not.

Yuval’s good friends from university were supposed to come over for an afternoon BBQ. I was working and was expecting for everyone to have started without me. But when I called Yuval on my way home to see how things were going, this is what he said.

“Oh. One of them didn’t talk to you?”


“Oh. Well, now they’re supposed to come around… 9.”

“Nine? You mean nine in the evening?”

“Yes.” He barely whispered.

He then went on to explain how everyone discovered, mysteriously on the day of the BBQ I should add, that their cars were no longer available. The only guy who had a car was traveling during the day and would only be able to pick up everyone in Jerusalem around 7. And then another friend from Tel Aviv.

If they were estimating to arrive at 9 I assumed that could easily turn in to 10, and we’ll be eating at 11 and 6 hours later I would have to wake up to go to work.

Around 6pm when Yuval checked on the friend with the car, I heard him say “Az atem lo baim (so you guys aren’t coming).” It turns out the friend was still stuck in traffic near the Dead Sea! From there to Jerusalem, depending on what part of the Dead Sea, it takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half. Without traffic. It takes about two and a half hours from Jerusalem to our place.

Brooding feels like an appropriate word to describe my state at this time. Or silently fuming is more like it. That’s when I went on my walk to get away from the chaos of Yuval’s phone calls with his friends going back and forth about will they or will they not come after all.

While out on my walk I couldn’t help but ask myself, did this kind of thing ever happen in Japan?
Not with this many people! I answered myself immediately, probably out loud. With one person, maybe there were cancellations at the last minute, but hardly ever. But with more people? In Tokyo the bigger the party the essential reservations become for a typical restaurant or izakaya, so plans were made well in advance and while a person or two ended up running late, I couldn’t recall things falling apart at the last minute like this.

This made me remember something a Japanese friend of mine who is also married to an Israeli told me during one of their visits to Israel. She told me how a couple of her husband’s friends kept changing plans to get together so much that she was totally exhausted and drained by it. Now I had an idea what she was talking about.

But everything turned out okay in the end. The Tel Aviv friend took a bus to Jerusalem to save some time, and they all arrived giddy and in a great mood. While Yuval lit up the fire for the BBQ and we were waiting for the friends to arrive, Yuval’s brother convinced me to let him call my boss to explain the situation and let me take the day off the next day. It was a night of great food, great company, and lots of drinking 🙂 It took me nearly a whole day to recover, having spent most of it in bed reading, napping, and watching movies.

And now I know never to count on Israelis sticking to the initial plan. Better to be pleasantly surprised than to be disappointed!










すると「アズ アテム ロー バイム(じゃあもう来ないんだね)」と言っている。




いっぱい昼寝をしました 笑


Much love,

6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 13, 2012 9:45 pm

    This is so funny (and frustrating). Last year we didn’t know where we were going for Passsover until literally minutes before leaving the house. It was all “Well, didn’t so-and-so call you?” and “We’re meeting at so-and-so’s house at 3, or maybe 5, or maybe it was somewhere else, and driving together. We’ll see.” At least with Passover we knew people would end up somewhere, eventually, more or less on time. For casual plans with friends, it’s a complete gamble as to when, where, or who will show up. It’s definitely exhausting. Convenient public transportation makes being on time in Tokyo very simple, so maybe that has something to do with it? For Israelis, getting anywhere that’s more than a five-minute walk down the street seems to be very complicated.

    • April 14, 2012 9:20 am

      Wow, I don’t know if I could handle not knowing where we are going until minutes before leaving the house! I feel your pain immensely. I wonder how the Israelis you meet in the States will be in this regard? I know Yuval turned more Japanese after living in Japan (I don’t ever remember him pulling an Israeli when making plans there!).

  2. miko permalink
    April 14, 2012 8:06 am

    すっごいよくわかる!!!! 私も同じ経験をした。1日彼らに振り回される感じ。もう絶対に期待しないことにしている。 

    • April 14, 2012 9:23 am


  3. tokyobling permalink
    April 15, 2012 4:59 pm

    Forget the people changing plan things, this is the part that got me surprised: “Yuval’s brother convinced me to let him call my boss to explain the situation and let me take the day off the next day”.

    That would, NEVER, ever, ever, ever happen in Tokyo. (^-^;)

    • April 15, 2012 9:45 pm

      You’re absolutely right tokyobling, this is very unlikely to happen in Tokyo especially the more traditionally Japanese the company, I think. My former boss may have been understanding in certain circumstances, but we were far from a traditional Japanese company and we were also like family.

      Where I now work is much more casual and it’s not rare that people take a day off without much notice. And I should’ve mentioned that Yuval’s friends were throwing this BBQ/party for Yuval and I because we recently got married 🙂 … (It just happened about 7 hours later than originally planned!) So my boss was alot more understanding and wanted me to enjoy myself. I think it also helps that she seems to think I really have no life outside of work!

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