It is Sunday and I arrived in Ma’ale Levona Friday afternoon to spend my last Shabbat with Danny & Judy before returning to the States.
The bus from Jerusalem was packed, mostly with young, male soldiers. I found an empty seat toward the back of the bus and settled in for the hour and a half ride north.
As the bus was ready to leave, a women got on the bus and came back toward where I was sitting. I got up and offered her my seat. She shook her head and sat down on the steps next to the door. I asked her twice to take my seat and she just shook her head.
Then two more women got on the bus and the bus pulled away from the station. The two women came back to where I was sitting and I got up and offered either of them to take my seat. They both said, “No” and stood in the aisle.
So, picture the three of us standing next to the only empty seat on the bus and none of us willing to sit down. Several times I motioned to the empty seat and said, “Here, sit down.”
A soldier sitting in the seat in front of me turned to me and said matter-of-factly, “They will not take your seat.”
I looked at the women and asked, “Do you speak English” to which they both responded by shaking their heads.
I turned to the soldier and asked, “Why won’t they sit down?” He responded, “They are respecting their elders.”
“Well, tell them that in America, men stand up for women and give them their seats.”
One of the women looked me straight in the eye and said, “You are not in America, you are in Israel!” So much for not speaking English.
The soldier smiled at me and I asked him, “They are being stubborn, aren’t they?” He said, “Yes.” I told him, “I can be just as stubborn as they can.”
For the next half hour the three of us stood next to the empty seat. Finally one of the girls sat down but, then, a man across the aisle got up and motioned to the girl left standing to sit down across from her friend. He moved to the back of the bus and sat down in the aisle. Still the girl refused.
Finally, one of the male soldiers who had been standing in the aisle in the front of the bus and who had been watching this whole thing unfold, walked to the back of the bus, took the empty seat, and promptly fell asleep.
For the first time in the 6 years I’ve been visiting Israel it rained on Friday night. It was a hard rain and the temperature turned really cold. However, this morning, the sun is trying to break out from the rainclouds and dry things out.
The Bible talks about “early and latter rains”. Israelis consider the “latter rain” to be any rainfall that comes after the New Year (which is next week). The “former rain” is what falls before the New Year and is considered bad luck here in Israel.
I am supposed to meet with Yossi Maimon today after I mow the Kransdorf’s lawn. This is the Sabattical Year and nothing is supposed to be planted or harvested. Mowing the lawn is considered harvesting and can’t be done. But, since I’m not Jewish, it seems that I’m exempt from this prohibition.