'Doing Things Out of Spite Is Part of Israeli Culture'

Arrivals / Departures: A British life coach working with Tony Robbins reluctantly offers a piece of advice; Israeli siblings explains the difference between weddings in Israel and Brazil.

Linda Kedy.
Tomer Appelbaum

Linda Kedy, “halfway through,” lives in Sitges, Spain; flying to Rome

Hello, can I ask how you spent your time in Israel?

I was visiting my daughter and sister, who live here. I lived here once, too ... I was born and raised in England, and moved to Israel for 10 years – we lived in Netanya, Eilat and Tel Aviv. From 1982 to 1987, we had a pub called Long John Silver.

In Dizengoff Square? I went there in the 1990s.

Yes, the place kept going. I sold it to when we moved to the United States. We lived four years in Florida, then two years in Montreal, 13 years in Atlanta, Georgia, another eight in Florida, and last April I took a cruise ship to Europe and went to Spain ...

Just like that, spontaneously?

I checked things out and visited the place I’m living in advance. I thought I’d stay for two months, but I stayed on. It’s a small village on the coast; I usually live next to a beach. It looks like the Tel Aviv boardwalk as you are walking toward Jaffa. Only without chaos, pressure and dirt.

Why did you move around so much?

It was usually to escape from something. When I left England my boyfriend at the time was one of the 1963 train robbers. People didn’t like the fact that I was dating him, so we escaped to Israel. Now I’m not escaping, but heading toward something.

What happened?

Since 1992, I’ve been working with Tony Robbins and that’s a large part of the reason for the change. Do you know about him?

No.

He does life coaching. Many do it, but he’s at a whole different level. He’s been consulted by Bill Clinton, Serena Williams, Mother Teresa ... People know him as a motivational speaker, but he doesn’t deal only in personal change.

What do you do, exactly?

Half-hour sessions via Skype or WhatsApp. I have a business on the web, but work only as a Tony Robbins coach ... It’s fun to find out what drives people, what interests them and what they believe in. Anyone who can identify such things can move forward. We all come out of the womb fine, until we go to school and are told what we’re not allowed to do. And if you live in the United States, you also get Ritalin.

Do you have some basic advice for me?

That wouldn’t be good coaching. I must first ask many questions to give good advice. We avoid coaching for free. The thing is that if you don’t put yourself on the line and be willing to risk something, you won’t progress. So all I can say is that you should eat healthful food.

Are there certain problems that characterize the 20 years you’ve been coaching?

In the U.S. it’s the “I’m entitled” feeling. A 15-year-old who asks what kind of car his parents are going to buy him. Terrible. No one uses their brain for basic things like mathematics. That combination is creating a generation of children who can’t survive in the world these days because they have no life skills. That’s why many adolescents and young adults come for coaching, to learn things that they don’t get at school. And we work with many successful rich people, because they know there is always more to learn. People who aren’t successful think they know it all.

Tomer (the photographer): And do you know it all?

No one does. Because I’m the only Hebrew speaker in the organization, I have the privilege of coaching Israelis.

Is there something that characterizes Israelis?

Yes, they do things davka – out of spite. Until we explain that they’ve paid a lot, so they should take advantage of their time. Davka is part of the culture here, a mode of self-defense.

Lee and Bar Berlowitz.
Tomer Appelbaum

Lee Berlowitz, 33, lives in Tel Aviv; and Bar Berlowitz, 20, lives in Petah Tikva; arriving from Sao Paulo, Brazil

Hi there. Can I ask you where you’ve been?

Lee: We were at a cousin’s wedding – my father, my sister, my brother and I went. It was terrific. We spent a week with the family in Sao Paulo, and we also had a week’s vacation by the sea at Porto de Galinhas, next to the city of Recife. Something amazing happened there, just as we landed.

What?

Lee: A natural phenomenon. The city cordoned off a part of the beach; an inspector told us to wait. And then we saw them coming. Sea tortoises. Emerging from the sand, maybe a thousand creatures, a few centimeters in size, running into the sea. It was incredible! We saw it by chance.

When was the last time you went on a family vacation?

Lee: This was the first time in a long time, and probably also the last for now. It’s intense. It’s always like that with family, right? The whole day we were together. I’m the oldest. I have a brother a year younger, and my sister here, and there’s another brother who’s in high school. Everyone is a different age and everyone wants something different. She’s into photography and shopping, I’m more into just lazing around, taking it easy by the sea. But sitting on the beach in the sun? Everyone enjoyed that, and that way everyone could also do his own thing. So we got through it peacefully, and it was even fun.

How was the wedding?

Lee: It was at the Jewish club. 

Bar: It was a very different wedding from what we have in Israel – let’s put it like that. Everyone comes in magnificent clothes – all the women in long dresses, all the men in suits and ties. Lee didn’t wear a suit, but he was really an exception. 

Lee: Of course!

Bar: There were three bands and also a deejay. The dancing went on until the morning, which you don’t get here.

Lee: There was a world festival of the top deejays there, called Tomorrowland. I was planning to go, but the wedding wiped me out. It ended at 7 A.M.

So you went wild in Sao Paulo.

Lee:  It’s a city I would never live in, there’s lots of concrete and air pollution. The air stands still and there’s a smell of gasoline, because of all the cars. Not the most appealing place. There’s no beach, either!

Are you from Brazil originally?

Lee: I lived there for a year when I was three. We immigrated to Brazil from Israel in 1986, our two families: my father and my uncle. We came back after a year, my uncle stayed on and is still living there.

Why did you leave and come back so fast?

Lee: My parents liked Israel better. They tried their luck. But there’s no place like Israel.

Bar: I said exactly the same thing when I was there – that it’s fun but only temporarily. I want to travel but to live only in Israel.

Lee: It sounds like we’re some kind of patriots.

Bar: You have no problem saying that.

So you had some thoughts about the homeland.

Lee: I did, but about relationships. I’m in a relationship now, and I think being apart for two weeks actually brought us much closer. But I don’t want to start gushing, I’ve said too much as it is!