After 17 years in Israel, we would have thought that we’ve experienced most types of hurdles. But we’ve never had a car stolen, or had a reason (Thank Gd) to engage with the police.
This week, we got to add those accomplishments to our Aliyah portfolio when our car was stolen.
Well, I don’t know if you would say stolen, per se. We got into the car after attending a beautiful event – just an incredible, warm and lovely affair – to find that they had broken the back window and removed the entire computer system that runs the hybrid. So, we had the car…or at least the metal frame of what could be called a car. Just not one that could turn on. Or drive.
And there we were – an hour from home well after our bedtimes trying to navigate how to deal with a stolen car.
You’re never really done having new experiences as an Olah. Some of them are ones that you enjoy, and others aren’t. But they are all learning experiences. That is for sure.
For all the talk (around the world, really) about difficult experiences with the police, we were blessed with quite a lovely one. They came immediately once I alerted the security team at the venue and did a thorough job of investigating the area (as much as they could at 11pm). They brought us to the police station, where a very friendly investigator took us to his office to fill out the paperwork.
He knew that we were not native Hebrew speakers (obviously…) and spoke slowly and showed a lot of patience. While we were filling in the paperwork, Investigator Moshe (my new best friend) asked us how long we’ve been in Israel.
This is always a loaded question. As soon as I say anything over five years, they get that look that says ‘Wow, your Hebrew really isn’t where it should be for the amount of time you’ve lived here.’ And I decided long ago not to be insulted or offended by the question. I’m extremely proud of the accomplishments we’ve made and the sacrifices we’ve chosen for our kids’ future. And if that means we are embarrassed once in a while by our level of Hebrew, then so be it. We’ve done our best within the context of our lives and jobs to learn Hebrew, and we’ve certainly given our kids the tools they need to succeed.
“Longer than our Hebrew reflects,” I said, my typical answer these days. “But,” I said, “the kids are fully Israeli. Their Hebrew is fluent and their preferred language.” Josh jumped in to explain where our son is in the army.
“Oh,” Moshe said, looking up. “You’ve done well.” He told us which unit his son is in, and then he looked at us with that expression army parents get.
“It’s hard. It’s so hard.”
And we looked at each other and nodded across the police table. Across the cultural differences and the professional differences. Across the religious divide and the country of birth.
As we left the police station close to 1am (with a ride waiting for us from an incredible friend) Moshe said, “Don’t take this car situation personally. Thank Gd it wasn’t worse – Thank Gd it was just the car. When I put on tefillin in the morning, I thank Hashem for getting me through the small things since there are so many larger things that can happen. Trust me, this is small.”
Moshe proceeded to answer my calls on his private cell phone for the next two days each time that I hit a bump in the car-stealing road. And there have been many.
When we had our last conversation (well, what I really hope will be our last conversation), he said, “Make sure to say hi to your husband. And I wish you and your whole family a lovely and Happy New Year!”
I’m so grateful for these interactions. For Israelis who are patient with Olim while navigating confusing, nerve-racking and unknown situations. For friends who come to the rescue in the middle of the night, even when they are in the middle of a celebration. And for the ability to put these frustrating and exhausting days in perspective as we head towards the new year.
May the stolen cars of our lives be our only real challenges and may we all have great people around to help us through the difficulties that we experience.