מהי ההגדרה של גיהנום ישראלי: חורף בברלין

סובלים מהאפור של החורף, ישראלים ומזרח תיכוניים מתגעגעים לחורף של מקום מולדתם. טור חדש שלי.

IT STARTS WITH THE DARKNESS that falls so early on your head and continues with the lack of sunlight most of the days. Sometimes there’s heavy rain, hail and snow. -The burden of the Berlin winter lies on our shoulders and inside our hearts. I fear to go out yet I dare not  rot in the house for lack of oxygen, sun and movement.

All the Israelis, the Middle Eastern Arabs and those who come from the south side of Europe feel it. There are many layers that construct our fear. Or shall I call it depression? I have to listen to my old German doctor and go to buy a vitamin D to fight the loss of sunlight.

Some of my friends have found a short solution. They just fly away to Israel for a month or two, and stay at their parents’ house, or they sublet their apartments or swap them. Others fly to different, sunny locations like Greece or Tenerife.

One friend told me how the winter was a big problem for his kids after he took them to Israel before Christmas and returned to grey, freezing Berlin. The children found it hard to adjust from the sunny winter of Israel with their family warmth to the cold streets of Berlin. No more grandma, grandpa, cousins or aunts. No more sun.

I grew up with a sun that was close to the Equator. Maybe this sun drives the whole Middle East to war and conflict, but it always keeps you full of energy.

A lot of the Israelis aren’t so privileged to be able to escape from Berlin when winter descends. They stay for the Christmas holidays and the New Year celebration. This is the period when the city gets extremely empty, when you feel like you don’t have any German friends. You find yourself miles and miles away from German culture and society. You know that you don’t speak good German and will never learn it either.

And as much as you long for the New Year parties and some congregation, you are afraid of the fireworks that remind you of the sound of the bombing from the Middle East.

I still remember how there were months of snow in 2013. Maybe we are the only ones secretly keeping our fingers crossed for global warming. On my first winter I called my mother and asked her to send me some long underwear.

I’m an alien, I’m a legal alien / I’m an Englishman in New York

Sting sang about how it feels to be an UFO.  Here in Berlin they call it Ausländer. This is how you feel and this is how you finally should think of those refugees who aren’t so legal and are still living with us in Berlin. You stay inside and disconnect from the world around you. You are counting the days till this torture is over.

In Israel, even in winter we sat outside the bar on Schenkin Street, sharing a cigarette and drinking an early beer. My friends are still there. They say to themselves: “We lost Mati who left us to Berlin”. I remember that on my first visits back home, I brought the wrong clothes for the Israeli winter. Suddenly the sun felt even stronger. And unlike the other Israelis, you know that there is another reality when the sunlight is so rare.

I grew up in sunny Haifa in front of the sea. I remember the winds were salty and most of the winters weren’t depressing.  The only problem was the lack of heating. Even though it was not cold, you can freeze to the bones in Israel because there wasn’t good heating infrastructure. At home, we had a kerosene stove in which we used to gather around it, especially when Maccabi Tel Aviv was playing basketball. But the floor was stony and icy.

I heard bad things about the Berlin winter of 2012. And I still remember how there were months of snow in 2013. Maybe we are the only ones secretly keeping our fingers crossed for global warming. On my first winter I called my mother and asked her to send me some long underwear.

But my wise Jewish mother said, “Mati please go down and buy yourself one. So I went down to an everyday supermarket and used my broken German. The young German salesman understood me. I was so happy; I wore it immediately.

Now in Berlin I have a wooden floor and central heating. I live in the fifth floor and it is always hot because my neighbours are heating the house.

On one hand, if I forget to take my vitamin D pill, I am doomed. So I swallow it.  The tank goes away. Now I’m starting to write, to find a path out of the darkness.