Only in Israel…

Only in Israel…could things have worked out so that my Shabbos was not completely ruined.

We, as a school, all went to this one settlement for Shabbos.  Naturally, the 40something of us couldn’t all stay in one place, so the school set us up with different families in the area.  I had assumed they were all alumni of our school, and had been given biographical sketches of their guests (or at least references!), but my friend Sarah and I got to our host only to be asked, “Hi, what are your names?” and then “So where are you in seminary?…oh yeah, where’s that?”  And I’m sitting there thinking, this woman knows absolutely nothing about us, yet she’s opened her home to us.  Wow.

A few minutes later, we went off to get ready for Shabbos.  I’m hard of hearing and rely on hearing aids to function, and I try to change my hearing aid batteries before Shabbos, since I can’t change them during Shabbos and going without would really get in the way of enjoying Shabbos.  But I realized after a few minutes of rummaging frantically through my backpack that I had put my batteries in another bag!  My host came in and asked what the problem was, and I explained the situation.  (Now, it’s entirely possible that the batteries would have lasted through Shabbos, since I couldn’t remember when I’d last changed them.  I just didn’t want to take that chance!)

“So, are there any pharmacies nearby?”  I asked hopefully.  She shook her head.

“Unfortunately,” she told me, “it’s way too close to Shabbos.  But wait–I have an idea!”  and she grabbed the phone.  “Rina,” I heard her asking, “I have a Shabbos guest here who needs hearing aid batteries; can you help?”  She listened for a minute, then said goodbye and grabbed her keys, and I ran after her.

“Does this person own a pharmacy or something?” I asked her once we were in the car.

“No, she’s just got a son who has hearing aids, and I thought she might have some extra batteries.”

Sure enough…a minute later, my hostess pulled to a stop on the side of the road and rolled down the window.  A woman ran forward, dropped two batteries into my hand, exchanged hurried Shabbos greetings with my hostess, then dashed off almost before I knew what had happened.

“Wow,” I said to my hostess,  “only in Israel can you go to a random neighbor’s house ten minutes before Shabbos and borrow hearing aid batteries.  This is awesome!”

Only in Israel…do people cry with joy at the bris of the new son of a complete stranger.

Since school started, we all knew that our classmate was going to have a baby sometime this month.  Last week, she was absent, and we all knew even before the official announcement came what that meant!  Then came the announcement–she’d had a healthy baby boy.  Earlier this week a sign went up on the bulletin board, saying that the bris (circumcision ceremony, where the baby enters into the Jewish covenant and gets his name) would be today.

So we all got out of class early and walked over to the shul where the bris would be.  You could feel the excitement in the air, especially when the new mommy herself arrived.  At the bris itself, everybody was crying (at least on the women’s side…I wasn’t paying attention to anyone but the baby and the mohel over on the men’s side!), which is remarkable when you consider that I’m not at a typical school where everyone starts in August or September…I mean, we had girls here who’d never even met the mother.

But I consider her a really close friend, and this is her first baby, and all I could say to her afterwards when we were all (even the strangers) lining up to hug her and look at the baby was “He’s beautiful and perfect.  Mazal tov.”

Only in Israel…could my bus ride have ended that way.

I left school today by bus, as I usually did.  It’s about a 15-20 minute ride if you include waiting and switching buses and such, so I got out my ipod and settled in for the ride.  We arrived at my stop, I got off the bus and turned around, planning to wait for it to pass so I could then cross the street and get to my apartment building…and watched in amazement as a teenage boy, obviously religious, jumped off the bus, handed me my wallet, and jumped back on.

Wait–my wallet?  I’d thought it was safely in my pocket…apparently not.  But here’s a country where you can trust people to give you back your missing wallet without a second thought, and trust bus drivers to wait while such a transaction is taking place, and…just, wow.

Only in Israel.

And more than ever, I’m convinced I’m in the right place.

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3 Responses to Only in Israel…

  1. BKop says:

    as always, your candor and your genuine appreciation for all that is good
    in people is a joy to read about.
    what’s so good about it is that I know you will do the same, i.e., helping others,
    without hesitating.
    like you, I found Israel to be a special place because so many of the people there
    are that way. that makes me agree, with confidence, with you when you say that
    you are where you belong.
    what a treat it would be to see you there so that we could travel a while together!
    that’s why, more than ever, I say, “Next year in Jerusalem!”

    love ya

  2. David Schwartz says:

    I concur – “Just…wow”. Israel is an amazing place indeed – thank you for sharing these snapshots of your life! I hope you have a meaningful day of gratitude on Thursday, whether or not you get to eat any turkey. I know that I am grateful to be able to follow your adventures a half a world away.

  3. Christi says:

    As we celebrate Thanksgiving today……I wanted you to know how thankful I am for you, the amazing journey that you are on, and the perpetual kindness, love, and welcoming spirit that honors and embraces you in Israel. I am filled with such gratitude for the knowing joy and peace this brings to you!

    I love you.

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