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Danita and Michel Aziza


Danita Aziza , September 28, 2011

My hair is now completely grey and I dare say it could be a side effect of attempting integration rather than purely a result of a genetic predisposition. I don’t hide the fact that over the last three years I’ve resorted to hair coloring every six weeks (of course with only the most natural brand available here) not just for the sake of vanity, but also because you don’t tend to see a lot of grey headed people walking the streets. Come to think of it, grey, in its most general sense, seems to be in short supply in Israel.
If I had to describe myself using a color, I would have to say that grey describes me best. I don’t mean in terms of my personality or at least I hope not, but I’m grey in terms of my approach to most things. O.K. I admit it, I’m definitely very wishy washy just like the color grey. My long time friend, Lori, someone whom I’ve always admired and have turned to for advice on things that require sound thinking, once cautioned me about being too grey. Being in that grey zone can make things a tad confusing especially for your kids, I do recall her telling me about 15 years ago.
I come by my “greyness” by osmosis. In terms of politics, my family, including my parents and even my grandparents were staunch liberal party supporters. In terms of religion, well I grew up attending a conservative synagogue and in terms of economics, my family was pretty much middle -class.. My parents preached and practiced balance in their lives and the phrase “everything in moderation” could definitely qualify as a family mantra. I played the piano, took dance lessons, and tried to learn how to sing. I dabbled in this and that being about average in everything and generally not excelling in much of anything. I was a totally mediocre student through much of high school getting average marks and always scoring in that grey zone on any standardized test I was forced to take. Grey basically dominated my upbringing and became a primary rather than a secondary color on my personal palette as I merged into adulthood and began to form my worldview.
I’ve cursed my grey tendencies on many an occasion. I get confused by being grey and sometimes forget what it is that I truly believe in and where it is that I draw the line. It causes me problems when it comes to religion as I am neither religious nor secular and am prone to bending the rules all too often to accommodate others or myself. My children, G-d bless them; play my coloring beautifully recognizing my propensity for being able to see their side and rationale even if it runs contrary to my own better judgment and thinking. They know all too well that if they grandstand long enough and loud enough I’m likely to bend cause that what we greys so often do. I know that Michel, my husband for 25 years ,finds my grey to be a real challenge to deal with when we are in a situation that requires speedy decision making and decisiveness. Being grey definitely places me on the median sometimes unable to decide with whom to catch a ride; those driving north or those that are headed south.
Well now I’ve come East and I’m finding sunny skies dominate the days with desert like darkness at night and, but for a brief stint in winter, grey clouds are a rarity. When it storms here, boy it pours with crashing thunder and bolts of lightening that make even a Saskatchewan Prairie storm seem nerdy. When it’s hot, oh man is it hot. You feel like you carry a sauna with you like Fred Flinstone and his waste height yaba daba do car.And much like the weather, many things can have a tendency to be at an extreme in Israel with that comfortable, noncommittal middle ground much more difficult to find. 
While I’ve always considered being grey a bit of a handicap, I’ve had a change of heart and have started to think that perhaps a little more grey is an antidote for some of what ails this Country. I wonder what would happen if there was movement more into the grey zone of religion bridging the vast differences between the religious and the secular. I’ve found that many people who live in the country have an all or nothing attitude toward religion and that there is very little effort to create something that allows exposure to the beauty of our traditions and encourages more exploration of all that is great about Judaism. Sadly, I find the reality is a lack of understanding and tolerance for the two extremes and a very scantly populated group of those in the grey zone.
The average Israeli  often times can be accused of having a tendency to see things as either being black or white. I often witness with complete shock and wonder and yes, some envy too, how definite Israelis can be about themselves and their opinions. Confidence and certainty abound and oftentimes you witness the dual extremes of thought at work in the grocery stores, on the roads, in the media and in the Knesset (Parliament). Friends, neighbors and colleagues can be seen in fierce discourse over minutia and they can be inclined to depart company before some middle of the road compromise is found. Israelis can be passionate, persuasive, highly intelligent, exceeding competent as well as nurturing and kind, but you’d be hard pressed to find someone who would describe most Israelis as wishy washy.
With a lot of black and white surrounding me, I’ve taken to fancy my being grey. It allows me the opportunity to be open to hearing different thoughts and opinions and then affords me the luxury of changing my mind on something that I may have believed to be absolute at some other point in time. I’m able to be less hasty in casting someone aside because my viewpoints are a far stretch away from theirs and I think my grey offers me the opportunity to gain insight from differing perspectives and find merit in each.
My grey follows me wherever I go. I was at the health food store last week scouting out my favorite hair- coloring product. The clerk, eager to assist me in my selection, felt strongly that I should opt for something on the darker side. My choice of “Light Chestnut” (no big surprise there) met with an expression smacking of disapproval. After enough time here I’m learning to stand my ground and Light Chestnut was what I bought.   I’m not sure that clerk quite got the fact that I’m looking to cover up the grey… not to get rid of it completely.
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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