I am often reminded of the unique privilege that is available to our generation. My grandfathers’ grandfathers (and theirs as well) could only dream of living in the Holy Land of the Jewish people, populated and governed by Jews. They strove for what we take for granted. And every once in a while it is nice to stop and smell the flowers (so to speak).
There is, for instance, this bus. A couple of days before Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) this year, I was walking by a bus stop when I came upon this bus. In place of the name of the destination of the bus, this bus driver has posted “Chatima Tova”, which roughly translates into “May G-d seal your fate for the good”.
Yes, in the US we would often see highway signs or bus signs saying “season’s greetings” – but that usually referred to a national or Christian holiday. This bus driver’s wish, echoed on other buses I saw that week, was a unique wish from one Jew to another. Something we could only get here in Israel.
Last week I had another “only in Israel” moment. I had scheduled a morning meeting in Netanya, a drive of at least an hour and a half from where we live (not including traffic). Thankfully, instead of having to drive, I was able to take a train to within a mile of their office; the train trip took only an hour and a quarter.
In order to get to my morning meeting on time, I needed to catch the early commuter’s train. This should have required my waking up a couple of hours earlier than normal in order to attend earlier morning-prayer services than I usually attend. However, and you don’t see this where you live, since the commuter trains from out city of Bet Shemesh have prayer services on the train – I simply took my tallit (prayer shawl) and tefillin (phylacteries) with me and prayed on the train.
The trains depart hourly and at least two, if not three of them host daily morning-prayer services in the final car. The commuters even have small Torah scrolls that they bring to the train for those days when there is Torah reading. There is nothing quite as surreal as fifty men, swaying with the movement of the train, all saying prayers silently together to remind one that he is indeed living in the Jewish homeland. There were even five Kohanim (descendants of Aaron the High Priest) on the train (I was one of them).
Having all washed our hands prior to boarding, we made our way together to one end of the train car for Bircat Kohanim (a blessing offered upon the congregation by members of the male descendants of Aaron – this blessing is proffered only on major holidays outside of Israel but is proffered every single day in Israel! ON THE TRAIN!!! It was amazing.
It is something we take a bit for granted. Yet, it is nice to be reminded that in THIS land we are one people and not the minority. In THIS land we live the dreams of our grandparents and great grandparents and great-great-great…………
Sometimes the dream takes hard work. Sometimes there are disappointments, tragedies or any number of challenges. But in the end, it is still the dream.
- by Shmuel Katz
Editors Note: For our readers clarification, the English translation of the Priestly blessing that Shmuel Ktaz mentioned in his article comes form Bamidbar(Numbers) 6:22-26:The Lord spoke to Moses saying:Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying: This is how you shall bless the children of Israel, saying to them:”May the Lord bless you and watch over you.May the Lord cause His countenance to shine to you and favor you.May the Lord raise His countenance toward you and grant you peace.”
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