My wife and I travel into Jerusalem on a regular basis. When we go, we travel by bus. Usually, we travel in the morning.
We are typical bus riders. We are exactly like public transport riders everywhere. We mind our own business. We watch the passing scenery. We wait patiently for our stop.
We’re no different from any other riders who aren’t reading, talking to a friend or, as we occasionally see someone doing, saying morning prayers. We’re like morning commuters everywhere in the world (except, of course, for those morning pray-ers; that’s an Israel thing).
Here’s a story about a morning commute in Israel. I don’t believe this kind of story happens elsewhere. At least, I never saw it on any subway or bus in any American city I’ve ever been to or lived in.
One morning, a young friend of ours was traveling to Jerusalem by bus. As usual, the bus was full. On her bus, there was a middle-aged woman with five or six children, perhaps ages 9-11.
At one point early in the ride, the middle-age woman began speaking aloud to her group of children. She was loud enough for most in the bus to hear.
From her words, it seemed this woman was taking her group on a ‘history day-trip’ into Jerusalem—something many here do. After all, Jerusalem is filled with history. It’s filled with places to talk about.
Apparently, this woman wanted to use her time on the bus to review with the children material she may have already taught them. She asked a history-related question, then waited for one of the children to answer.
The first question was fine. She asked, a child answered. But at the second question, one of the other riders, an adult, called out the answer.
The middle-aged woman said, ‘shhh, let the children answer’. As the bus continued on towards Jerusalem, she asked another question. Two other riders called out answers.
By the time she got to the fifth question, half the bus was calling out answers. Since this is Israel, the middle-aged woman asking the questions did what any ‘real Israeli’ would do in such a circumstance: she raised her voice. She called out, ‘now this next question is really tough”.
That did it: our young friend couldn’t resist any longer. She found herself whispering her own answers to the questions. Others near her whispered or called out their answers. When someone called out a correct answer, other riders cheered for that person.
They say Israel is family. They’re right. That bus ride proved it: we’re all in this together!
Here’s a question for you who dwell in exile: what are your public interactions like with people you don’t know? Do you cheer aloud for them on your bus?
If you live in exile, this particular story contains a message for you: come home. Return to ‘family’.
Make aliyah. Move to Israel.
The longer you live here, the more you’ll smile at what you see and hear. The longer you live here, the better you’ll get at answering questions you’ll hear on a bus—or in a mall or while waiting in line or while…
Come join us. Somewhere in Israel, there’s a history question waiting for your answer.