Yesterday, as I stood unpacking boxes with my door open, I was invited to, or more accurately, stuck in the middle of, meeting and greeting the new neighbors. Again, more accurately, I'm the new neighbor, and they all came to check me out.
All were, sweet, charming, and extremely nice and generous- inviting us for Shabbos meals, finding out if we needed anything, and so on. NBD charmed them as well- everyone loves a cute baby. (I'm biased, but she is cute.)
Our neighbors have also been generous about lending things: 'scotch' (that's scotch brite cleaning items for the Americans out there), a step stool to reach high cabinets, and a Gemara for poor Mr. NMF, who's Gemaros are somewhere in the endless array of boxes labeled 'sefarim'.
But, as we are neighbors, some of the Israeli's feel almost instantly comfortable. They asked us for our extra boxes, as they would be moving soon. They asked us if we had extra beds for guests to sleep in, since we wouldn't be there for Shabbos. And, you know- if I was in the US, I might almost find the fact that we, and them, started asking for favors almost as soon as we walked in the door, some what laughable.
After all, in the US, I lived out-of-town, and knew my neighbors quite well, but I wouldn't have asked them for things as soon as I moved in, and neither would they. When I sojourned on the East Coast, I didn't know my neighbors at all- and so neither one of us could ask each other for favors.
But it's one of those things you either love or hate in Israel- the instant comfort and congeniality among neighbors. I happen to love it- you feel comfortable with each other immediately, solving many problems of the 'getting-to-know' you stage. But maybe some would prefer a little distance, at least until they themselves start to feel more settled.
In a way, it helps to feel comfortable immediately, in that it helps you acclimate immediately as well. They can tell you the best places for shopping, for clothing, for shiurim, and so on- things you wouldn't know on your own.
In any case, I'm grateful to have neighbors with whom the largest distance we have to cross is the hallway between our apartments.
16 hours ago