Last updated February 9th 2015

Israel’s diverse landscape can be overwhelming and finding out how couples from different backgrounds date, mate and relate in this multicultural society is positively thrilling. In the Valentine’s day issue of Time Out Israel’s English Edition eight “mixed” couples (one Israel, one non-Israeli) share their love stories, and one of them is my husband, Matan Attias and me.

Check out the piece by Lior Phillips, and read the original interview here, spiced up with some lovey-dovey memories from our family photo album. The Big L. is in the air, White City boys and girls!

Kristóf Joseph Steiner and Matan Attias by Ilya Melnikov for Time Out Israel Kristóf Joseph Steiner and Matan Attias by Ilya Melnikov for Time Out Israel

Where did you guys meet first? Was it an instant attraction?

Kristóf: For all the people who don’t believe in the fact that love can be find on a one night stand: it’s a classic. We met eight years ago in a club in Budapest, we kissed for hours slightly tipsy, then we went up to his place, very tipsy. Matan was a med student, I was a TV host for the Hungarian Music Tv, but as he didn’t watch local television, he had no clue who I am, and I liked it that way. The next morning we were not sure about each other’s names. Three weeks later we moved in together.

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How long did it take for the proposal, and how did you do it?

Matan: We’ve been together for over three years, when on a long weekend spent in London Kristóf popped the question. We bought a bottle of red and a box of brownies, and he exchanged one of the slices for the box of the ring without me noticing it. We know the tie here in Israel, three years ago, on a boat leaving from Jaffa port, among friends and family from Hungary and Israel as well.

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What’s the biggest difference in dating an Israeli Kristof? And a non-Israeli? Did you find it was your friends who commented more, or your family?

Kristóf: My family always had a “thing” for Jews to be honest. We never went after our roots, but my surname “Steiner” is a well known Jewish name, and my granny from my dad’s side escaped from a German camp during VV2 to find peace in Budapest. My father bought me my first Martin Buber book when I was 14. So for them, me dating an Israeli was like connecting back to the roots. As for my friends, most of them visit us very often, and I always pay careful attention that they have the chance to discover how this country really is, how we all live together in harmony in amazing cities like Tel Aviv of Haifa, my husband’s birthplace, nicknamed the city of coexistence.

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What are some of the biggest misconceptions about where you both are from?

Kristóf: Well, when it comes to Hungary most people think about goulash and sleazy Estern European movies, and since I’m a vegan for almost six years, and I’ve never been an adult film star, I guess I’m already going against the stereotypes. Oh, and I never solved a Hungarian cube, nor any of my Hungarian friends.

Matan: The list is so long, I could go on forever. Some people assumed I’m expert in Krav Maga, others showed me ancient Kabbalistic literature to translate it, expecting me to understand the Aramic texts, since “it’s Hebrew letters after all”. And of course there are the ones who take me to hummus places abroad, expecting me to be blown away, when a real hummus addict only goes for the best, and frankly, even in Israel only a handful of places make the real deal.

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What has been your biggest argument/disagreement?
Kristóf: Let’s just say that we are, or – be ezrat HaShem were – a very dramatic couple, and we had a few memorable battles, for all the
cliché reasons. Once, when “Bad Romance” came out and Matan loved it so much, we had a huge fight over Madonna or Lady Gaga being the Queen of Pop. Luckily for all of us that was just a passing phrase for him.

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What gets lost in translation between the two of you? In the beginning did you misunderstand any words/facial expressions?

Kristóf: For a while I didn’t get it why he calls me “Mami”, which is a sweet nickname in Israel, but a corny pet name for a grandmother in Hungary. Oh, and for about a year I misplaced the pressure in the name “Matan”: Israelis pressure the end, while we, Hungarians put it all in the beginning of the word. His mom was like: “you know this is not the way we say his name, right?”

Matan: We spoke English from the very start, and since our move to Israel in 2009 our conversations are built up by about 10% Hungarian and 5% but increasing Hebrew phrases. We have our own language and after all these years we understand each other even without words.

És persze itt van a szerelem... Matan. És persze itt van a szerelem… Matan.

Do you find that living in Israel has had an affect on you two?

Kristóf: Absolutely. We moved out and about Tel Aviv’s every neighborhood, we experienced it as lazy hippies and as busy yuppies, traveled all around the country with our two doggies, and always kept our hearts open to experiences, conversations, and adventures. We both truly believe that the Holy Land is a very unique place with enormous energies, which are here to share between all the good people of all religions and races, and we trust it that this can happen in our lifetime, so we can raise our kids in a country just as peaceful as beautiful.

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Happy Valentine’s to all, may you all who visit the White City find love and hold onto it forever and more. xoxo WhiteCityBoy