Hebrew, The Language
There is an entire discussion in Allison's wonderful blog, about "Anglos" (English speaking immigrants--that's us, folks!) who arrive in Israel with their arriviste attitude towards The Land and their people.(See An Unsealed Room, http://allisonkaplansommer.blogmosis.com/)
Much of the discussion boiled down to this: Anglos arrive in Israel and think everyone should speak English. What, learn Hebrew? Moi? The chief gripe was that even those who survived ulpan to speak some basic everyday Hebrew never bothered to become fluent in speaking, reading or writing. This apparent disdain for communication in our ancient tongue is also apparently accompanied by an attitude of "I'm here--and that's enough."
I don't recall any of the Patriarchs adding the last phrase to their response to The Almighty. I think the proper answer is "Hineini" with the implied, humble, 'what-would-You-like-me-to-do-next?'
This is only funny because in the States, Yanks have very little patience with people who immigrate in and fail to learn the local patois perfectly. Much American nativist sentiment focuses quite unfairly on the inability of immigrants to pick up unaccented, fluent English. Woe-betide the poor old mother who still speaks only Chinese, Spanish, Albanian, etc and hasn't learned "American" (otherwise known as 'English' after the people who invented it). Coming from a nation with such high expectations of immigrant assimilation and mastery of the native tongue, I should think that American olim would certainly hold themselves to the same high standards their birthplace has always held the American immigrant to....
So, to my fellow American olim, let me add my two agarot worth: LEARN the language! Learn to speak it, to read it, to write it. DON'T speak English in front of a mixed-lingual crowd where not everyone understands -- that's unspeakably rude. Speak the Lingua Franca of the Land -- Hebrew. Practice, practice, practice and get out there and practice.
Frankly, I'm terrified of being quasi-illiterate in Hebrew. I'm making aliyah with grown and almost grown children, so I'm not some spring chicken with a student's open mind. My mind is old, decrepit, burned out and sometimes a bit foggy--but I want to rise to the challenge, even though I'm afraid it will make me cry when I flail about in frustration. But I WANT to be Israeli, and being Israeli means ani medaberet Ivrit.