I got an email this morning from a friend in Israel, a guy in his mid-50s who recently made aliyah (immigrated) from St. Louis:
A truly heartwarming “Israeli” thing happened this a.m. on the #3 I take to downtown Haifa. A little girl of about 5 and her mom boarded, and the child presented the driver with a handsized teddy bear as you often see attached to a keyring. Ever since our busses have become targets for Palestinian bombers, grateful folks have been kinder than usual to the drivers – who, along with security guards are the real heroes in this war – presenting them with food, stuffed animals, words of faith and encouragement. (CNN, NPR, PBS, etc., probably already reported that, right?)
“My mom says this will bring you mazel (luck),” said the child. The driver accepted the bear for a moment then handed it back to the child. “Thank you very much,” he said, “but I think he should ride in the back with you so that all of us will have a safe trip.”
I was not the only rider wiping away a tear on the ride. As I got to my stop I noticed his dash was filled with various stuffed animals and I realized that just as we have over the past 3500 years, we will prevail over this enemy…
I’ll just add that Haifa is a mixed Jewish-Arab city, and that a number of Israeli bus drivers are Arabs, so it’s entirely possible that the driver, and some of the passengers, were Arabs.