adventure, Gush Etzion, Israel, Neve Daniel, Only In Israel, soldiers

Boys in My Hood

I had one of those only-in-Israel moments today. 

I was in a terrible mood leaving Alon Shvut this afternoon, and started to turn towards home.  There is a trempiada, a place where people wait to get rides, directly across from the exit of Alon Shvut. I don’t often stop there to give people rides since it’s not inside a Yishuv and I don’t typically see people I know there. But today I decided that I would get outside myself and do something nice for someone else to help me be in a better mood.

The group was very excited when I pulled over – it looked as if many people had passed them by. I told them where I was going and they asked if I could bring them to Tsomet Ha’Gush (a five minute ride). Sure, I said, as four very cute boys in their early 20s started to climb into the car. They saw that I had a large car seat in one of the seats. At first they said maybe one of the kids should stay back, but then they decided that wasn’t a good idea. So all four climbed in, and one preceded to crouch into the car seat and buckle himself in.

We started to drive and I asked them where they live. “Haifa.” “Nahariya.” “Petah Tikva.”

“Huh,” I said, chuckling. “What are you guys doing here?”

They shrugged, not really answering the question, but seemed to be on quite an adventure.

I soon discovered that one of them spoke perfect English, since his parents were Indian, and we went back and forth from Hebrew to English. Each time that I said something in English, the other guys would yell at their friend “What did she say? What did she say?”

“So, was the pigua (terrorist attack) at the bus stop that we were standing at?” they asked.

“Which pigua?” I said.

“What? Well, you know….” They began, a bit shocked by my question.

And I started in explaining that the three boys had been kidnapped from here, but this had happened there…etc.

“Wow, how do you live here?” These native Israelis with their perfect Hebrew and their army service wanted to know.

“What do you mean guys?” I said. “I live here for the same reason you live here. We are all in this together. My neighborhood isn’t any scarier than yours. And it’s beautiful and peaceful.” It was so incongruous to me to be the immigrant with the broken Hebrew telling these native boys about my life.

So then we changed subjects. As we got to the intersection where they would soon get out, I pointed out the Pinat Chama (the warm corner where we have a continuous free flow of food for the soldiers in the area).

Photo credit: Laura Ben-David

“Hey! We were all soldiers. Let us out! What can we get?” They said, while giggling.

“Sorry boys. You’re not in uniform.”

“I was in the Navy. No one ever brought me free food like that on the ship.”

“Hey!” One yelled like a five year old as we rounded the circle, “That soldier has barad (a slurpie). I want barad.”

“Up ahead, guys, is Givat Oz V’Gaon. It’s a beautiful spot for camping and hiking.”

“I’ve heard of it. It’s named for the boys, right?”

“Yes. I’m surprised you’ve heard of it. It’s named for the boys.”

“And there, on your right, is the way down to Hebron. Just twenty minutes south of here.”

“No way! Hebron? Right there?”

“Hey! You should be a tour guide. Look at all of the things you are pointing out to us.”

Giggling with the absurdity of our situation, with the hysterically fun trip they had invited me to take them on, I pointed out that their bus stop was up ahead.
“Will we be ok there? Is it safe?”

“Yeah, you’ll see. We have barriers and soldiers. Just stand behind the barriers. Don’t go in the street. And anyway – you were all soldiers. You’ll be fine.”

And they exited the car, laughing and thanking me for such a great short trip.

And I wished I had offered to take them all home to dinner to show them Neve Daniel. And I wish I had taken a selfie with them…but there was the little fact that I was driving the whole time. 

I went home shaking my head at the hilarity (and irony) of it all, having completely shaken off my frustrations from earlier.

A slice of today’s moment in time.

Only in Israel.

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