Published: February 14th 2012February 14th 2012
Leaving Israel, I’m left with a few lasting impressions of this small country and its big personalities. One of the first things that struck me – and stuck with me – is that Israelis are sticklers for anything and everything you can be a stickler about, but especially for traditions and rules. If it was written 3,000 years ago in the Torah, it still stands today – even if no explanation was ever given and practicality petitions for change. So it is written, so shall it be. If the bus has left it’s official stopping zone by a mere ten meters, you’ll have to wait for the next bus, because there’s no way that one is going to let you on. The same rule follows for hitchhiking. It’s easy, but it has to be done from a designated stopping zone. No one would dream of stopping anywhere else. Seatbelts must
be worn at all times. And a yellow light means Stop! – not Proceed With Caution.
They are a nation of do-gooders, where people really look out for one another. On a ride I caught in the Golan Heights, we stopped to ask for directions to a trailhead and stayed to help with a pesky engine problem. Ask to borrow a phone and they give it to you and walk away, telling you where you can find them later. Sometimes, the way Israelis show that they care is by telling you what’s best for you. This is another thing: Israelis always know best, and they’ll always make sure you know it.
Israelis love to brush their teeth in the morning. I don’t think I ever saw anyone with their toothbrush in hand at night, but it was the first thing they did when they rolled out of bed. Considering that they like to drink a little tea with their sugar, brushings should happen at least five times daily, but we rarely do as we should.
Israeli families are big and full of love, respect and trust. I saw children as young as six riding the bus by themselves, or leading a trail of younger siblings across the streets. Somewhere, far back in the Jewish genealogy, two people with horrible eyesight fell in love and had lots of babies. Naturally, those babies had horrible eyesight and, when it came time for them to procreate, they too, chose a member of the opposite sex who couldn’t see very clearly. And their legacy lives on today. It seems that most Jews buy their corrective eyewear from the same supplier – one that carries only small, frameless, rectangular spectacles. You’ll occasionally spot the full-frame or half-frame variety of the small rectangles, but never once did I see glasses of any other shape.
All that being said, I greatly enjoyed my time in Israel. I met a lot of amazing people, had many unforgettable experiences and saw beauty everywhere. I’m always sad to say goodbye, but I’m always happy to experience the unknown.