An Interview With Gale Boyd: Life in Israel

Question: Are the majority of Jewish worshippers in Israel faithful to the Orthodox ways, or are there many Reform and Conservatives.

Answer: Israel only recognizes Orthodox Judaism. All weddings, funerals, etc. must be Orthodox in order to be recognized. Any donations that come from abroad are funnelled to Orthodox institutions unless Reformed or Conservative charities are specified by the donor.

However, only about 20% of the Israeli population is Orthodox. The other 80% covers the whole spectrum. A large part of the population is pretty secular, but Jewish by tradition. There are often conflicts between the sects of Judaism in Israel.

Orthodox Jews will not drive on the Sabbath and are strict followers of sabbath laws. They will not turn on a light or an oven on the Sabbath (sundown Friday to sundown Saturday). Homes and apartment houses have "Sabbath elevators" and lights, which are self-initiating on the Sabbath. Therefore, Orthodox Jews tend to group into neighborhoods and buildings where their lifestyle is protected. Roads are barricaded by local police on Sabbath to keep more secular people from driving through the neighborhood. Sabbath laws, laws of modesty and dress, and kosher laws are kept under the watchful eyes of Rabbis and residents at large.

Question: What do Jews in Israel say about Jeshua, Christ?

Answer:Some Orthodox will not even say the name of Christ. Some call him "the Abomination." Many thoroughly believe he is NOT the Messiah. Others are traditional Jews who feel no animousity towards Christ and have a "wait and see" attitude towards the so-called "Second Coming."

There are Jews in Israel who believe that Y'shua is the Messiah. However, a declared belief in Christ negates the benefits of the "Law of Return" that guarantees instant citizenship to Jews who migrate to Israel.

The society takes pains to avoid inadvertantly using the sign of the cross. In schools, the "plus sign" used in math is written differently than in the U.S. The vertical line stops at the horizontal line without descending through it. Also, the American "t" must have a curve at the bottom. Israeli Jews hate to be proselytized by Christians.

The controversy over the construction of the BYU Center in Jerusalem was because Jews claimed it would be used for missionary work.

Question: Do you hear Yiddish in Israel?

Answer: You do hear Yiddish, and European Jews there use vocabulary from Yiddish without speaking the whole language. Only European Jews and possibly New York Jews use it.

Question: Did you feel safe in Israel?

Answer: We usually felt safe. During the Gulf War, when we drove home from the Galilee through Jericho at night, we were frightened. But there was a curfew, and patrolling Israeli Jeeps, so no one was on the streets. We had friends who were killed or injured in terrorist attacks, but there is really no other violence in Israel, so our kids used the busses at a very young age, traveled safely and were quite independent.

Israelis are extremely involved on the street. You've heard of situations here in America where someone was crying for help and no one became involved. It's exactly the opposite in Israel. Israelis, in spite of their public rudeness, are truly vigilant for terrorist incidents. Hundreds are thwarted for every attack that succeeds. Also, every Israeli is a trained soldier, and they all have guns. Terrorists always die, whether they're loaded with explosives or just shooting up a street corner. As soon as the shooting starts, they're taken down by the locals.

Question: Why did you leave for America, and is there a problem retaining US citizenship if you are in Israel a period of time?

Answer: We never became Israeli citizens. Since Orthodox Zionists took control of the Dept of the Interior, you cannot get citizenship under the Law of Return if you profess a belief in Christ or Mohammed, and we didn't want to lie about our beliefs. We could have become instant citizens of Israel if we had arrived under the Law of Return, since I am Jewish, but we didn't hide our LDS religious affiliation. We were working tourists for eight years. There was always a possibility we could be deported -- the Dept. of the Interior was deporting Christians who had been welcome in the past, some of whom had permanent residency. We made trips outside the country often, which helps. It is possible to have joint Israeli and U.S. citizenship, but if you go to Israel from the U.S. for the determined purpose of fighting with Israel in one of its wars, you lose your U.S. citizenship.

We moved to the Island of Cyprus after 8 years in Israel, and continued in International business from there.

Question: What do the Israelis think of us here in America?

Answer: America gives a lot of money to Israel. In general, Israelis don't like having to take handouts. They hate it when Americans support them from the philosophy of Christians who believe that Jews are chosen. Israelis know the Christian view of the Second Coming, that Christians expect them to see Christ and convert, and they don't like that scenario, especially because so many Jews are supposed to be destroyed.

Otherwise, there are many American Jews who live in Israel, and many who travel there often and own real estate. Many, many make private donations and send their children there on special programs or for various educational ventures. American products and commercial ventures are always welcomed and often copied.

Question: How did you feel being there as a Jew and as a Latter-day Saint?

Answer: Most of the time, it was fine. Of course, the experiences I had were amazing. Some Jews tried to reconvert me. Other Christians in the country dislike Mormons. Palestinians love Mormons and can identify us on sight, by our glow. Our Israeli friends and neighbors were fabulous. We lived in secular neighborhoods.

Question: Did you attend ward services? What was that like?

Answer: Yes, we started out meeting in the basement of the Swedish Embassy, then moved into the new BYU Center for meetings. Yes, there were threats against the branch and the leaders. It all ended up OK, though. We did have guards for a time at the doors for our meetings.