Living in Different Cultures
Living in Different Cultures by Tamar Frankel is a memoir-like collection of keen observations of global culture. Vignettes by the Israeli-born distinguished legal scholar, now 93, guide those from different cultures on how to respect each other and live in harmony.
Frankel writes from nine decades of clear-eyed observing. Born in pre-Israel Palestine on July 4, 1925, she served in the Haganah underground defense force, graduated from law school, served in the Israeli Air Force, and helped the new nation of Israel draft its first set of civil laws before moving to the United States to practice law. Becoming in 1968 the first woman on the Boston University Law School faculty, she has taught there for 50 years – with time out to help devise the Internet’s legal structure and officially advise the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Her experiences in teaching, writing, and living in Israel, the United States, Japan, England, and other countries exposed Frankel to many cultures. Writing from the viewpoint of a proud Jew, she offers her perspectives on Israeli history and culture, the contrasts she experienced in other countries, the evolving role of women in different cultures and in the legal profession, how different cultures treat the elderly, and her thoughts on the value of experiencing a variety of cultures and the need to understand and appreciate the differences.
Timely lessons in intercultural understanding, tolerance and cooperation from a trailblazing woman lawyer and academician.
former chair of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission
retired partner Arnold & Porter, Washington, D.C.
Available at Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble
Chapter 5 A Culture of Protective Relationships
The jeep that refused to go
During the War of Independence in 1948, when serving in the Air Force, another officer and I drove in a jeep along the Jordan River. On the other side of the river was Trans-Jordan and some of its people were the enemy. Nonetheless, there were settlements along the river as well, and we took that road to reach the North.
Halfway through the trip, the jeep became sickly. It “plumped-plumped” a few times and stopped moving. We pushed it, tried to induce it to start, but nothing worked. We were planning to begin walking the twenty or so miles to our destination. But a few minutes later, a bus passed by. Upon seeing us preparing for the walk, the bus stopped. All passengers and the bus driver stepped out. They inquired: “What is wrong?” And we explained that the jeep would not move.
Without much ado, the bus driver went back to the bus, took his tool kit and started fiddling with the jeep’s engine. All passengers stood around and gave advice, being very much involved in the resurrection process. Finally, the jeep sputtered and woke up: It worked! Everyone was very pleased. The driver and his passengers went back to their bus; we thanked them. They wished us good luck, and we parted.
Only later did it occur to me that none of the passengers complained. No one looked at his watch and said: “What kind of a service is this? I have a meeting soon,” or “I promised my wife to be home by dark; what is this stop in the middle of the road, especially since, on the other side of the river, there may be someone with a rifle that could shoot us!” Not one such complaint was made. In fact, it seemed as if this type of reaction did not occur to anyone of the passengers, nor did it occur to the bus driver. Our safety was their business and their priority. It is not surprising that one felt safe in this environment.
Chapter 15 The Value and Limits of Arguments
The fruit of the tree
There is a story of the learned Jewish wise men who discussed the rights of owners on abutting lands. What if the fruit of a tree that grows on one owner’s land falls on the land of the neighbor? Who has the ownership of this fruit? This is not a trivial issue. It appears in American law to this very day.
Yet, one of the members of the group posed a question that showed disrespect. He asked, “What if a bird fell from heaven or from a tree landing with one leg in one piece of land and the other leg on the adjacent land? Who owns the bird?” The answer was to show this inquirer to the door and exclude him from the group. This was not a serious question, and the questioning person did not deserve participation in the group. Nonetheless, he was later re-admitted. Why? It seems that limited exclusion was a sufficient punishment, as well as warning to others with an unacceptable sense of humor. You do not laugh about arguments aimed at learning!
Arguments at dinner
Arguments can be extended beyond study. In Israel, on many occasions when a group of persons (at work or alumni of a school, or neighbors) got together for dinner, many subjects, such as politics, would trigger strong arguments.
I remember a dinner years ago in which the argument centered on whether Israel should keep control of Arab lands. The argument was heated. People banged on the table. Voices were raised. When the time was up, and we were ready to go home everyone embraced everyone else and said: “What a wonderful evening it was.”
When I moved to the United States, was invited to dinner and foolishly expected the same process and engagement only to find the extreme opposite. Everyone agreed that the weather was nice, and that the sports game was a success (when it was) or not (when it was not). In fact, the evening demonstrated a culture — the social habit — of avoiding disagreement. Even the slightest deviation from the statement of another person was immediately corrected. “Of course!” “You bet!!” I do not judge this difference but note it. Yet, I cannot sometimes wonder about its consequences regarding and impact on people’s learning. Being a teacher, I hope I am forgiven.
Did the argumentative culture in Israel change? During a short recent visit, we were invited to dinner at a friend’s home. The argument was about the settlements in the West Bank, and how to treat the religious Jews, who objected to the women in the Army, and how to bring Jews and Arabs together and whether the financial regulators were too strict. All these subjects involved arguments. People raised their voice. And the voices escalated. Yet, at the end of the meal, people hugged each other and said: “What a wonderful dinner this was.” I rubbed my eyes. It was as if I was re-living 30 years ago. While so much had changed, nothing fundamental had changed.
Chapter 18 Coming to America in 1949
Shopping at Marshall Field’s
Riding alone on the train from New York to Chicago raised anxiety: will I be met by anyone or be lost? This dread was quite new after living in familiar surroundings for so long. But then a very nice lady did meet me at the train station. She said she needed to do some shopping and asked me whether I needed to do some shopping as well. I said, “Yes,” I needed a bathing suit. So, we went to Marshall Field’s Department Store. The size and riches of the store were overwhelming. Swallowing hard, I managed to follow my hostess to the right department.
Then my hostess did her shopping. She ordered six of this, and six of that, and six of those items. When the salesperson asked me what I wanted, I said I wanted a bathing suit. Then when she asked how many? I found myself saying: Two!
I could not believe my ears. It was as if someone else answered. In any event, returning to the group, the members asked eagerly: “What did you buy?” I showed the group my two bathing suits. All group members were surprised: Who needs two bathing suits? You had one until it was worm-out and then you bought another. I could not explain.
The explanation came after thinking about it: When each community member was different from each other member, you could be different as well, and feel “normal” After all, everyone was different. But when everyone did the same thing, like buying more than one bathing suit (six!) — there is more pressure to conform and buy at least two. It took time and effort to retain what one considers to be the right behavior, no matter how others behave. And when one retains what is the right behavior, for example, the amount bought, one might pay the price of “being different than us.”
Even though societies differ, the foundations of group cultures are probably similar in any human group. Human groups exist regardless of location, economic and political environment. The members of a group-culture are linked by certain needs, such as the need for protection, the craving for strength, or the hunger for amassing wealth, gaining self-assurance and respect, and sharing beliefs, humor, and behavior. The groups have a purpose and rules designed to achieve the purpose, for the benefit of all, or most, members.
The groups practice forms of enforcement that are acceptable to their members. Enforcement can range from executing the violators, to rejecting them, or to exposing violators to sad smiles and forgiveness. In fact, these sad smiles and forgiveness may be far more painful for some people than other forms of punishment. The degree of pain depends on the kind of people the group members are and their individual histories. To be sure, this is a general statement. But I believe that we will find these features in the groups to which we belong: these are the common denominators. After all, why do groups exist? The probable answer is that we cannot live alone. Like it or not, we need each other.
Professor Emerita Tamar Frankel has written and taught since 1967 and continues to teach part time in the areas of fiduciary law, corporate governance, mutual funds and regulation of the financial system. She has published ten books, many regularly updated, and is a prolific author of law review and other articles and book chapters, an expert witness, and a frequent speaker on a wide variety of financial topics.
Frankel has traveled in Europe, taught in Japan, and lectured in England, Switzerland, India, and China. Her books have been translated and influenced financial thinking nationally and internationally, including Securitization, translated into Chinese and Fiduciary Law, translated into Japanese.
In 2013, the Institute for Fiduciary Standard established the annual Frankel Fiduciary Prize in her honor to award individuals who advance fiduciary principles. In 2017, she received the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of American Law Schools’ (AALS) Section on Women in Legal Education. WealthManagerWeb has named her among the 50 Top Women in Wealth Management. In addition, she was noted as one of the most well-known 500 lawyers on Lawdragon, and as one of the Women Trailblazers in the Law by the ABA Commission project on Women in the Profession. In 1998, Professor Frankel was instrumental in establishing and designing the corporate structure of the Internet Corporation for Names and Numbers.
A long-time member of the Boston University School of Law faculty (1967-2018), Professor Frankel was a visiting scholar at the Securities and Exchange Commission (1995–1997) and at the Brookings Institution (1987). She has taught and lectured at Oxford University, Tokyo University, Harvard Law School, and Harvard Business School. She consulted with the People’s Bank of China and lectured in Canada, India, Malaysia, and Switzerland. A native of Israel, Professor Frankel served as an attorney in the legal department of the Israeli Air Force, an assistant attorney general for Israel’s Ministry of Justice and the legal advisor of the State of Israel Bonds Organization in Europe. She has been in private practice in Israel, Boston, and Washington, DC and is a member of the Massachusetts Bar, the American Law Institute, and The American Bar Foundation.
Awards for Living in Different Cultures
2022 Independent Press Award Distinguished Favorites
Social/Political Change 2021 NYC Big Book Award 2021 Distinguished Favorites
Finalist Autobiography/Biography 2020 Next Generation Indie Book Awards
2nd Place Biography/Autobiography/Memoir 2019 Colorado Independent Publishers Association EVVY Awards
Merit Place Cultural Studies/Social Issues 2019 Colorado Independent Publishers Association EVVY Awards
Praise for Living in Different Cultures
Timely lessons in intercultural understanding, tolerance, and cooperation from a trailblazing woman lawyer and academician.
former chair of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission
retired partner Arnold & Porter, Washington, D.C.
Professor Frankel’s delightful book is a chronicle of her multi-cultural experiences, including living through and fighting for the birth of the State of Israel, which itself is a surprisingly multi-cultural society, leaving home to move to the United States, dealing with lawyers with varied cultural backgrounds unaccustomed to strong female lawyers and becoming a trusted advisor to financial regulators across the globe, all while building a career as one of the most respected and beloved teachers and scholars in the legal academy. These are but a few of the reasons why spending time with this book is time well spent.
Jack M. Beermann,
Professor of Law and Harry Elwood Warren Scholar
Boston University School of Law
Only when backed by life-long experience, wisdom can be easily shared. This is precisely the case of Tamar’s book. The author demonstrates that it is possible to rise above differences in social, religious, ethical, legal and cultural environments settings, how to search for and discover common ground in interactions and commonalities in values. Born in Palestine, raised in Israel having traveled the world and finally having settled in US, Tamar shares wealth of anecdotes, each containing a gem of wisdom and optimism. In order to move forward in our complex world — and this, according to Tamar Frankel, is our personal, professional as well as political common calling — we have, each and every one, learn to better “understand the misunderstandings” and accept that “my way” is not the only way. This is the only path to help “our way” to emerge.
Paul H. Dembinski, Director
Observatoire de la Finance
In this newest book, she draws upon her rich personal experiences to help us better understand each other. In today’s fractured world, this lesson of cultural sensitivity could not be more important. As she reminds us in her conclusion, “Like it or not, we need each other.”
Professor Peter Tufano, Peter Moores Dean and Professor of Finance
Saïd Business School, University of Oxford
Professor Frankel brings her vast scholarship and teaching of securities regulation and fiduciary law to her observations of national and organizational cultures. Her timing is excellent.
Knut A. Rostad, President
Institute for the Fiduciary Standard
In Living in Different Cultures, Professor Frankel is able to achieve the unique combination of sharp focus and a broad panorama. When I read, for instance, about her escapades as a young woman in the Jewish underground in Mandatory Palestine, her dealings with her Arab clients, or her experiences as a student and a professor in the U.S., all the characters are alive and multi-dimensional with all their eccentricities and complexities. My favorite part of this wonderful addition to literature is the following: “We are indeed different of age, religion, nationality, place of birth and living, and vocation. All of these do not matter. We are friends, respecting and loving each other. One could overcome cultural differences, in this case, very easily. That is because the people mattered and we are the same.”
Professor Rajeev R. Bhattacharya, Ph.D.
Department of Finance
Robert H. Smith School of Business
University of Maryland
I read with great pleasure the new book by Prof. Frankel, Living in Different Cultures. I can conclude that this is an extraordinary autobiographical work.
Dr. Uri Benoliel
head of the Commercial Law Department and Senior Lecturer
College of Law & Business
Ms. Frankel had an extraordinary life and the privilege to experience multiple countries and cultures, multiple careers, and overall do extraordinary things. If you are interested in the role of culture in our lives — you will enjoy this book very much.
Amir Grinstein, Professor of Marketing
Northeastern University and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Because of the popularity of air travel during the past century, humans learned a great deal about cultures that were separated by vast distances. The spread of social media during the present century promises to bring together varied cultures even closer to each other. Thus, it is essential for us all to be aware of their differences, and how to accept them. Living in Different Cultures elegantly fills that need. It is by a master who has experienced varied cultures and knows how to convey the point to a general public, and I highly recommend it.
Dr. Farouk El-Baz
retired director Boston University Center for Remote Sensing
previously a NASA and Smithsonian Institution executive,
earlier served as science advisor to Egyptian President Anwar Sadat
Table of Contents
Part One Personal Background
Chapter 1 Palestine: Immigrants to the Land of Their Dreams
A Personal Introduction: My Family
Chapter 2 Palestine 1935-1940
Tel Aviv: Group Support
A two-year-old runaway
The flying bus
Riding on the seashore
The Surrounding Environment
The Avalanche of Different Populations
Chapter 3 Cultures and Values Regardless of Religion
A flexible promise
“I helped you”
A different religion
The importer and Abu Yusuf
The Destructive Power of Civil Wars
Teaching children to accept others that are different
A View of Government: Cross-examination in Court
What bus? What man?
Fear of the Army: The “deserter”
A view of cooperative competition
Chapter 4 A Powerful Group Culture: Adoption Case
Can you buy a baby?
Chapter 5 A Culture of Protective Relationships
Feeling Secure Amidst Deadly Attacks and a War
The jeep that refused to go
The Price of Protective Culture
Loss of privacy
The housing community group
Adjusting to Fear of Different Kinds of Dangers
Bombing and shooting
Involvement in the Security of Others
The attitude towards guns
The use of protective weapons
Why are guns used?
The differences among wars
Chapter 6 The View and Status of Women
Women in Judaism and in Israel
Women in Judaism
Women in Israel
The Rules Regarding Men and Women
How Should Professional Women Behave?
The image of women
A professional woman in the law school
Professional Women in Four Countries
Women leaders in Great Britain
The Chancellor of Germany
Women in Bangladesh
Chapter 7 Attitude Toward Age and Education
Age in Judaism
Age in America
Age in Japan
Children’s views and education
Education in Jewish tradition
Education and changed circumstances
Education and Israel’s culture
The Oxford accent
Attitudes Toward Education in China and Japan
Attitudes Toward Learning Vary
Chapter 8 Culture of Self-Defense: Consequences of Bringing People Together. The Haganah
Discovering the Reality of the Holocaust
Meeting Abba Kovner
A real-life lesson
The Holocaust in the court
The jewelry case
Joining the Haganah
From an Underground force to an Army
The Model of the “Special Company”
Mrs. B: the underground arms carrier
The attempt to break a curfew
Illegal radio and the actor Meir Margalit
Experience as an illegal radio reporter
Impact of the Haganah on relationships
Winding Up and Re-emerging as Part of the Army
Chapter 9 Army in Israel Today: Cementing Disparate Groups into a Nation
The Israeli Army
Rich and poor together
The young are everyone’s children
The young soldiers are trusted
Chapter 10 National Values and Principles
Should Israel occupy Gaza?
The Gaza population
Gaza’s support by the United Nations and others
Allah Yarhamu: Danger v. Protection by Preventive Killing
May God help them
Placing and removing a bomb
No death penalty in Israel
Invincibility in self-defense
The Reason for the Israeli Army’s Success
Chapter 11 “Lawyering” in Mandatory Palestine
The Jerusalem Law Classes
Chapter 12 A Legal System for Many Cultures
The Ministry of Justice
Establishment of the Ministry of Justice
The Legislative Issues
The meaning of the words
Who died first? The husband or the wife?
The familial atmosphere
Chapter 13 The Air Force
Israel and the American and Other Foreign Pilots
Building the Israeli Air Force
The Piper Cubs
The “Legal Department”
Law practice in the Air Force
Chapter 14 Facing and Reacting to Different Cultures
Managing My Own Behavior — Up to a Point
Behaviors and Signals They Send
Preventing the blood-feud
Forms of Behavior and Signals They Send
Japan. The respected third party
Intermediation Through a “Go Between.” China
Different Cultures Offer Different Shortcuts by Signals
The offer of peace
The shades of peace
Who is the actor?
Chapter 15 Value and Limits of Arguments, Manners
The Value and Limits of Arguments
The fruit of the tree
Arguments at dinner
How Should One Evaluate Arguments?
Standing in line
Eating in the street
The Role of Laughter
The acceptance ceremony
Unacceptable Israeli Jokes about Non-Israeli Jews
My funny story
Another funny story
The Brooklyn Bridge story
Laughter as a Relief
Bringing Mother to the U.S.
Chapter 16 Role of Music in Bringing People Together
Music Brings People Together
Israel as a melting pot of music
The Caesarea concert
Pablo Casals played a solo at the end of the concert
Chapter 17 Adjusting to a New Mix of Cultures
Adjusting to Unexpected Behavior from Another Culture?
Celebrating in the streets
Part Two An Israeli in America
Chapter 18 Coming to America in 1949
The First Visit to America in 1949
Shopping at Marshall Field’s
The view of money
Speaking from a pulpit
Differences between America and Israel
Chapter 19 Coming to America in 1963: Loss of Identity
The Invitation of Harvard Law School
A fascinating new world
The route to the unknown
Rewards to seeking the unknown
The treatise on money managers
Chapter 20 Living in America Permanently: How Did Life Change?
Personal and cultural reactions
“How are you?”
The issue of accent
The focus on trust
Being Different, Being Approved of, Sensitive to Others, Winning and Viewing Others’ Happiness
Am I happier when people approve of me?
Sensitivity to others
Adjusting by learning
What Are the Lessons Learned Concerning Culture?
Chapter 21 Learning the Culture of Financial Institutions
Bankers Trust Company. New York
A banking education
The Brookings Institution
A year in a “Think Tank”
Eighteen months at the SEC
Chapter 22 Being a Professional Woman in America
A Professional Woman in America in 1968. Choices and Risks
Reaction to failures
Chapter 23 Visiting, Advising, and Teaching in Different Countries and Cultures
Working in China. The Translator, Bad Loans and Something New
The bad loans
Teaching in Japan
The Japanese student and the trust banks
Mitsubishi Bank Trust
Museum and fiduciary center
Mirror of the country’s economy: how much does a dress cost?
Visiting a village
Part Three Conclusions
Chapter 24 What Is Culture?
How Can We Understand Another Culture?
Chapter 25 Approach to Interacting with Other Cultures
What Approach Is Best Interacting with Different Cultures?
Full Absorption of Other Culture
Sharing with Other Cultures
Need for Protection
What about Different Approaches to Financial Risk?
Risk can be taken or restricted
The Culture of Trust and Mistrust
What undermines trust
Chapter 26 How Can Cultural Differences Be Managed?
Managing Cultural Differences
Chapter 27 Achieving Change or Adaptation of a Culture
What Forces Change Culture?
Cooperation and diversity
Living in Two Cultures
Chapter 28 Building Relationships with People of Other Cultures
United States Group Culture
Belonging to the Group
Reputation and a Following
Can We Afford to be Different?
Satisfaction of Long-term Relationships
Tamar Frankel’s Books
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Discussion Questions for Book Clubs
Download in printable format here.
Why do we need to focus on cultures today? Not many years ago we lived within our communities and rarely traveled even within our country. We knew our neighbors and their children. Most of us ate similar foods, spoke the same language, laughed at the same jokes, and found the same behaviors offensive. Even though the immigrants to this country acted differently, they did not travel much, just as the American-born did not travel much abroad.
Today’s world is different. We travel more frequently, both within our country and abroad. We watch television news and read about different nations. In school and at work, we meet people who come from different countries, who have different manners, a different sense of humor, and different sensitivities. In sum, we are exposed to different cultures.
Living in Different Cultures Book Club Guide provides suggested questions intended to help book club leaders discover interesting topics for discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
- The “language” of culture includes signals or non-verbal communications. People use their hands to convey a message, for example:
- Touch the thumb and first finger to make a circle. In Japan this gesture means money. In United States it means OK. In Venezuela it is an offensive sign!
- In some countries, tapping the forehead with your fingers indicates “craziness” while tapping with the open palm sends the message, “I’m stupid” or “I made a mistake.”
What are other thoughts or ideas we convey through the use of our hands that may send different signals? Think of other examples of cultural signals that might be used to say something that could be misunderstood. How can you recognize when your hand signals are not understood? What would you do if the person who did not understand takes offense?
- Silence may be a signal of respect and agreement or of disrespect and disagreement. Can you think of times this led to lack of understanding in your life? How did you resolve it?
- Tipping is common in the United States. An Internet search for “tipping in different cultures” brings up pages of advice on customs in different cultures. Did you know that complimenting a good meal with $1000 tip could be offensive? Would you study the tipping customs before visiting a foreign country? Would you expect others to know that you are from the United States and assume they would just know and accept your tipping customs?
- Tell us about a time when you were in a culture very different from your own. Was it uncomfortable or awkward for you? How did you adapt? Did you notice others making an effort to adapt to what they saw as strangeness you exhibited?
- Tamar Frankel shared many stories about her experiences in Israel and dealing with so many different cultures. Which story resonated the most with you? Why? What did you learn from her example?
- Tamar Frankel states that every culture has something to give. Think of some examples of things that cultures may have to share. We enjoy foods and recipes from many cultures. What are some other examples in your life that come from other cultures?
- Tamar Frankel has said that “contributing is more important than winning.” Do you agree with that statement? How does it relate to living with different cultures? Discuss the differences between contribution and competition. Can you think of examples?
- Discuss your thoughts on the following quote from page 153.
“We don’t need to judge all the rules of the other cultures. But we ought to know what to expect. We cannot assume that what is so obvious to us is obvious to everyone, or that what is good or bad is the same for everyone. Thus, before we interact with other cultures, we ought to study and try to understand how we can live with them and work with them.”
- Think about ways to bridge cultural gaps and how you could behave to smooth relations with people from different cultures. Argue and explain to convince? Make fun of the others’ position? Threaten? Or identify with the other party: Would I like to be treated in this or that way? Or find a compromise when the issue is not worth it and fight when it is?
- Ask yourselves this question as you wrestle with the ways to accommodate others cultures. Is my purpose to win or to find a solution with which all parties can live?
Living in Different Cultures is available at Amazon and Barnes&Noble.
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Title: Living in Different Cultures
Author: Tamar Frankel
Hardbound ISBN: 978-1-888215-47-2
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-888215-49-6
ebook ISBN: 978-1-888215-48-9
Categories: Memoir, Multicultural, Women’s Issues
BISAC1: Biography & Autobiography / Cultural, Ethnic & Regional / General
BISAC2: Biography & Autobiography / Jewish
BISAC3: Biography & Autobiography / Women
Author Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Size: 6″ x 9″ | 210 pages
Price: Hardbound $19 | Paperback $15 | Kindle $4.99
Publisher: Fathom Publishing Company
Available: Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Resellers should order direct from the publisher.
Living in Different Cultures Book Exhibits
October 2-4, 2019 New England Independent Booksellers (NEIBA) at the Independent Publishers of New England Booth
October 16-20, 2019 Frankfurt Book Fair in Frankfurt, Germany at the Foreword Reviews booth
October 19, 2019 Boston Book Festival at the Independent Publishers of New England Booth
October 20, 2019 New England Library Association in Mystic, Connecticut at the Independent Publishers of New England Booth
October 23, 2019 Virginia Library Association Conference in Norfolk, Virginia at the Association Book Exhibit booth
January 24-28, 2020 Midwinter ALA Meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the Foreword Reviews booth
June 25-30, 2020 American Library Association in Chicago, Illinois at the Foreword Reviews booth