The Person Behind The Posts

Friday, October 26, 2012

Riding Buses After Dark

Buses are positively ubiquitous in Israel. I've written about them lots of times before, including here and here and here and here and here.

And I want to do it again.

We're in choref zman, winter time, in Israel. Not literally as in snow and ice, because the weather is still relatively mild here, but in terms of the clock, which we set back already, a few days before Yom Kippur.

It gets dark pretty early in this part of the world.

Last night, I went to see the daughter of dear friends perform in a production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. It was fabulous community theatre, by the way. Funny. Touching. And in English.

It took two buses and nearly 90 minutes to get there. It's funny how my relationship to travel time has become more elastic in Israel. In 90 minutes from Baltimore, I could be halfway to Newark airport. Last night, I traveled less than 15 miles.

I especially love riding buses after dark.

It was pure, tear-inducing joy, spending those 90 minutes driving through Jerusalem on a Thursday night, listening to oldies on my "Nostalgia" playlist. Through the bus windows, I got to see:
  • Har Habayit (every time I travel into Jerusalem)
  • Tourists and locals shopping for tomatoes and burekas at Machane Yehuda
  • Arab men in keffiyeh (keffiyot? keffiyim? keffiyahs?)
  • Felafel vendors
  • Small crowds of shoppers, laden with packages, waiting at covered stops for other buses
  • High end tourist shops selling expensive Judaica 
  • Small, old holes-in-the-wall from which specialty vendors have been making a living for decades
  • Lots of Hebrew signs which hurt my brain trying to read
But more than that, the ride was filled with a special kind of I can't believe I get to live in Israel bliss, watching the endless parade of humanity, my peeps, boarding and alighting, as I traveled to my destination:
No, not this kind of peeps.
  • The fine-looking soldier in uniform, asleep on his huge backpack, traveling home for Shabbat.
  • The modestly-dressed religious woman in sparkly black clothes, full makeup and blond sheitel in an updo, on her way to a simcha. 
  • Three 14 year-old Israeli girls in the seats that face one other near the front, babbling and giggling in rapid fire Hebrew.
  • The old man with celery sticking out of his covered bubbe cart.
  • The young woman in a tank top with a whole lot of eye liner, saying Tehillim.
  • The young man in a black hat doing his best to learn from a Hebrew sefer in the low light available inside the bus.
  • The middle-aged Russian couple dressed for a nice dinner out.
  • The striking, slender Ethiopian woman who stood talking on her cell phone the whole ride, even though there were plenty of seats available.
  • The American yeshiva students, headed "to town" for Thursday night pizza.
In my neshama, I was living out the adage on this Arabic-Hebrew-English, only in Israel, sign.


SaraK said...


Marcy said...

Rivkah, you are so right. This is absolutely, for me, the #1 hardest challenge of aliyah. In fact its really the only challenge for me.

Yael said...

very true. Not being with family is by the far the hardest thing about living here.

Sara O said...

nice post! sounds very special. i always appreciate your posts, bc they give me encouragement to keep our commitment to aliya (2 yrs away).

Marietta said...

So cool. You have a good eye for detail. Thank you for sharing the rich tapestry of life in our Homeland.

Anonymous said...

"zman choref," not "choref zman" :P
Nice post!

badonna said...

I can feel and see every description you share, and greatly look forward to coming home, and staying home. badonna