Word of the Day Anglo-Saxim: Camelot of Ra'anana

After arriving in Israel, English-speaking immigrants find themselves lumped together with other newcomers from the Anglosphere - as well as ancient Germanic tribes.

Shoshana Kordova
Shoshana Kordova
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Shoshana Kordova
Shoshana Kordova

Back in the Old Country, English-speaking immigrants to Israel may have considered themselves American or Canadian, English or Irish, Australian or South African. But once they arrive in Israel, they all become Anglo-Saksim (AHNG-lo SAHK-seem), the Hebraicized version of "Anglo-Saxons."

That doesn't mean that in a past life they were members of the Germanic peoples who ruled England between the fifth century B.C.E. and the Norman conquest in 1066. (Not that there's anything wrong with that, as an Anglo-Saxon Jewish comedian once said on his eponymous TV show.) It's just that for Israelis, once those native English speakers get off the plane from London or New York or Johannesburg (it doesn't really matter which, after all), all those untrilled "r" sounds and queue-forming genes and excessive "excuse me"s merge into one generic mass of Anglo-Saxonness.

Native English speakers living in Israel often take part in the game too, in that they regularly refer to each other as fellow Anglos. I'm not just talking about the British: After moving to Israel, a Brooklynite who has never in her life had occasion to think of herself as an Anglo could well find herself in the same rough category as residents of a country to which one might consider fleeing if life becomes absolutely unbearable in Israel. Like after spending a day at the National Insurance Institute or, worse, at the bank.

The irony is that for years, American Jews looked on from the outside as white Anglo-Saxon Protestants got the college admissions, the jobs and the golf club memberships denied their Jewish counterparts because of their religion. Perhaps some of those Jews would have been more Zionist and less assimilationist if they had only known that, paradoxically, moving to Israel could grant them the sought-after Anglo-Saxon status that was so far out of their reach back home.

To contact Shoshana Kordova with column suggestions or other word-related comments, email her at shoshanakordova@gmail.com. For previous Word of the Day columns, go to: www.haaretz.com/news/features/word-of-the-day.

Alfred the Great, "King of the Anglo-Saxons".Credit: Wikimedia

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