Shulamit (Shuly) Wasserstrom is a breaking news editor at The Jerusalem Post. She made aliya from Portland, Oregon in 2010 and currently...
Wed,Apr 16,2014 16 Nisan 5774
I believe in the meant to be.
It's not a theory, or a lifestyle but rather just a term that comforts me and sometimes helps me refrain from taking responsibility for my actions.
This mentality presents itself mainly whenever an Israeli questions me on my decision to live in Israel, and how exactly I ended up here. I tell my aliya story just as it is: it was not a decision that I made in one day.
It was a series of events that fell into place and four years later it remains a continuing series of ever-happening events.
I force the questioner to accept my answer, even when they try and fish for some more clues. I am here because this is how it happened: I came and I stayed. I went to the Jewish agency, presented my documents and got excited. I got my citizenship, went to ulpan and went to university. Then I had a boyfriend and I stayed some more and I started working.
In between I moved once or twice, broke up once or twice, gained a few kilos, and lost them, once or twice, among some other once or twices.
But quite often, Israelis like to push it. My answers are not sufficient. “But why Israel??” they ask in skeptical tones.
The next typical question during a first encounter goes something like this: “So…where in the city do you live?” he asks me, a glass of Goldstar in his hand, condensation beginning to drip from his glass.
“Kikar Rabin” I reply smoothly.
I can already tell, just by the type of shoes he wears, that he too lives in center/north side of the city, rather than the south side.
“Oh cool! Ya, so what gym do you go to?” he eagerly asks next.
Upon first Tel Aviv style introductions, being a gym member is pretty important.
It doesn’t matter whether or not you actually go, just whether or not you belong. I belong, and I go! once…every…
Also of utmost interest is the geographical location of your apartment. It tells the other party a lot about you.
If you tell me you live on Ben Yehuda Street, I assume you are likely not a student (the buses going to the university are too far from there) and that you put going at the beach as a priority in your life.
If you tell me you live further inside the city, anywhere near Ibn Gvirol, it tells me that you quite possibly could be a student, because you have the quickest walk to the buses heading north. Or you just don’t like the beach as much.
If you tell me you live on Rothschild, well, then, you probably like to go out. And eat out.
If you tell me you live in Florentine, I automatically assume we have nothing in common.
"What’s it like over there?" I ask jokingly.
"I’ve heard of some cool bars there… " I say, drifting off with disinterest.
At some point in my city dwelling, where you live has become more interesting to me than what your occupation is.
And if you’re lucky enough to meet someone who lives near you, you most likely joke some neighborhood jokes. By ‘near you’ in Tel Aviv I mean literally no more than a few buildings away. This city is quite compact.
Neighborhood jokes include things like: "Oh gosh, the grocer at the supermarket is just such a gem!"; "Our garbage truck is noisy!"; "The light at the crosswalk takes too long. And Israelis are the only people who actually obey crosswalks!" We both laugh at that one.
With the introduction of Tinder (the newest dating app, based on 'liking' matches) in Tel Aviv, the area in which you live has become of utmost importance. There is now an app to introduce you to your neighbors.
Tinder finds you dates based on a small (minimum a few miles) radius around you.
Now, if you’re looking for someone who shares similar interests, than this is probably a good thing. Because if they live in the same area of the city as you, then you most likely spin in the same circles but have just yet to cross paths. You probably go to the same grocery store, gym and bars. You probably walk in front of their apartment on a daily basis.
But I must admit, using Tinder, to me, seems like tempting fate. Because if this person lives only a block away from you, and does basically all the same things as you, then how come you haven’t met or seen them before?
And besides, if I've made it in Tel Aviv until now, navigating municipal taxes, swerving in and out of bike lanes, mixing of new and old friends, then why shouldn't the same apply to dating life in the city?
Perhaps every meeting is fate. Maybe its fate that your face popped up on my tinder, its luck that I swiped right not left, and it's destiny you did the same thing.
But maybe there are things in life that should be left for the 'meant to be.'