Yesterday, I noticed a Jewish Star hanging from the roof of an Egged bus near the driver and I thought, with pleasure, about how explicitly and unabashedly Jewish this place is.
|Look above the driver's head for the colorful Jewish star.|
Today, I saw two more explicitly Jewish messages hovering around the bus driver's seat.
|The white sticker with red letters says "Shana Tova" , which is a traditional Rosh Hashana greeting. Okay, it's about a month too late, but it's still a nice sentiment.|
|The ride was bumpy so the image is not clear, but the bumper sticker displayed on the front of this bus reflects a political sentiment unique to Israel. Roughly translated, it says, "The story of Yehuda and the Shomron is the story of every Jew."|
It's an unabashedly Jewish place, and it's also a complex place, full of irony. This morning, in my davening, I was saying Acheinu and thinking about Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who has been held in captivity by Hamas since 2006. Exactly then, I turned to my right and saw a full Arab bus drive by. I'm not suggesting that anyone on that bus bears direct responsibility for the capture of Gilad, but it was, minimally, ahem... ironic to have been davening for his release at the exact same moment a busload of Arabs drove by.
On the other hand, I get to see Har HaBayit from the bus window every day on my morning commute. How incredibly fortunate I am that the site of the Third and final Holy Temple is part of my everyday life. My husband taught me to say the yehi ratzon at the end of the Shemoneh Esrei in which we ask Hashem to rebuild the Holy Temple just as the bus is passing by the site and Har Habayit is in view. Try doing that from Park Heights Avenue!
Two more quick stories, though neither is really about bus rides. I recently realized that, as a result of living in Israel, I have to alter the bracha I make after eating grapes. When you eat grapes that were grown in Israel, you don't just bless Gd for the fruit, you bless Gd for her fruit, for the fruit of Eretz Yisrael.
Finally, a small reminder of Baltimore that I see each day before walking into ulpan: