Everyone in Israel - if they are legal, and of course some who aren't legal - has an identity card.
This ID is callled a תאודת זהות (te-o-dat ze-hoot). It is like a SSN in the States or a SIN in Canada. You can't do much without it. You need it to open a bank account, to rent an apartment, to buy a bus pass, to get the famous club card at Tiv Ta'am - everything. What is different about the T.Z. is that it includes on the certificate, the members of your family and their numbers and it also includes your current address. If you move you have to go to the משרד הפנים (Ministry of the Interior) to have it updated. This can be a short visit (3 hours) or a long visit (multiple days, week, months). In any event that is a post for another day.
This amount of information that is readily available on the card is likely to send Americans into a major fit of paranoia about identity theft. Especially since Israelis use the T.Z. all the time and can be heard repreating it to the clerk at the grocery store or at Steimatsky's so they can get the two for one, special. But unlike the US or Canada, identity theft here is unlikely. It is unlikely because it is understood that if you take someone's T.Z. you also get their problems and their relatives. And f there is anything in the world worse than having your identity stolen it is having someone else Doda Miri (Aunt Miriam) sitting at the dinner table.
Last week while waiting for the Beta Dance Troupe performance to begin a fight broke out. I always want to sit on the left side of the theatre and near the end of the aisle. Claustrophobic. But this time I was happy to sit in the center so I could have a good view. I went to sit down beside Ken and the seat wouldn't lower. I tried to force it down and it sill wouldn't move. I then realized that the man in the row behind me was pushing into the back of the seat so that it could not be used. I looked at him and he said "מה לא בסדר. יש לי ברקיים" - What's the matter? I have knees.
There is really nothing to say to that. I told him in Hebrew that he was a חוצפן - that he had chutzpah. I went and sat on the other side. He now had a clear view all the way down to the stage. I thought it was over but then he started to bother Ken and go on and on about how he needs the space and yada yada.
Then he starts yelling at another woman who is in the way of the cameraman filming the peformance. He tells her to move - and she has a better option than the seat she is in but she yells back at him. She tells him that she paid for the seat and she is going to sit there. Two ordinary women who seem quite sane, and are to our left in the row ahead, join in and tell her to move so the cameraman can film the performance. She yells at them. They tell her she can sit right up front and really see it better from the new seat. She insists that she is not moving, it is her seat and that they should stay out it.
The guy with the knees keeps talking in Ken's ear. The cameraman is grumbling because he doesn't have a clear view and finally one of the women ahead of us says in Hebrew
".תסתכל עליה ברור שיש לה תעודת טמטום."
Look at her, she clearly has a Idiot ID.
Everyone laughs. The lights go down. And the performance begins.