Matt typically is the one to file the ain’t those foreign daddies something strange? posts, but I’ll give it a go anyway. I’m in Jerusalem for the week, doing research for a book I’m writing about, uh, Jews. (I pause because every time I write something about Judaism on this site we get a lot of “why are you singling out the Hebrews?” comments.)
I don’t know that I have much to say yet about the Jewish style of fathering. I’m spending some time later in the week with a couple of ultra-Orthodox families, and in case you didn’t know it—they make lots of babies. Perhaps I’ll have some insight after that, but for now, I’d like to focus on somewhat older Jewish babies: the soldiers.
I knew that there was compulsory military service in Israel, and I also knew that the soldiers are typically just out of high school. What I wasn’t prepared for was the sight of so many young people in uniform but in casual contexts: on the trains and buses, in cafes, wandering around the cities. There’s no real reason for it, but I was shocked to find myself seated next to what looked like a 10-year-old special forces corporal (probably 21) on the Tel Aviv–Jerusalem train, his iPhone in one hand, and a fricking automatic weapon in the other (and it was pointed at me—the ambivalent Jew)
Aren’t they supposed to keep those things down? No one else seemed to mind (maybe because their lives weren’t in danger), but it made me very uncomfortable.
So, my first sweeping generalization about Israeli parenting: they don’t teach their kids good lethal-weapon manners.
More to follow.