Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Does the Number 4 Stop Here?

Public Transportation Israel Style:

After a small fiasco with an Arab cab driver yesterday, I though that I might try to be completely Israel tonight and jump on a bus.

--SIDE STORY-- Leaving Yad VaShem yesterday was difficult enough emotionally without having to decide between Ahmed, Muhammad, Abdul and Yusuf as cab drivers, so I took the one that "looked" the most *maybe Israeli* and told him where I needed to go.

I engaged in some small talk here and there about the weather - COLD! - the basketball game on TV last night, and every one's FAVORITE topic, האח הגדול VIP, Big Brother VIP. Before long (2 minutes into the ride) he stops the cab and asks if I will allow him to pick up additional passengers. This usually results in a lower fare for me, even though it may take a few extra minutes. AND, the first person that was already getting INTO the front seat of the taxi was an Ethiopian woman carrying a bag of laundry and a bag of fruit. I'm already feeling sorry for this lady. What am I going to say, NO? We travel about six minutes, and she gets out, pays him 20 Shekels, and we are on our way. For 36 seconds. Two high schoolers get on. They are headed to my street - Not my block, but Emek Refaim anyway you slice it. They give him another 20 and when MY ride should have cost maybe NIS30, I figured I was home free!

Until I got home three minutes later, and the driver (Yusuf) asked me for FIFTY SHEKELS!!! His reply? It is the METER! LOOK AT METER! he says in perfect Arabic Ivrit. I asked him if I could pay him 10 or we could go talk to the police lady on the corner. He took 15 and we were done. MORAL: Look for a sign in the car like a Mezuzah or Hebrew newspaper on the front seat, or something.

Bus fare in Jerusalem is NIS5.90 ($1.40), the cab is usually NIS30.00 ($4.75), so to save three bucks, I figured, if 14 year old kids can take a bus, why can't I?

In my heart of hearts, though, I knew that if I tried things that for others are simple, I would get myself into trouble, but even so, I tried and got on bus this evening! The number 4 picked me up right on Emek Refaim - about a 14 second walk from the apartment and headed north to King George and right to Ben Yehuda Street.

I assumed, apparently wrongly, that if I found the #4 bus headed in the EXACT OPPOSITE direction, with the SAME driver, it **should** take me right back from where I came. Right?

Not so right. The bus zigged this way, and zagged that way; Turned right on this street and turned left on that street, all the while letting passengers off the bus. Come to think of it, I did not see even ONE person get ON the bus tonight!

After twenty minutes or so, I noticed that there were two passengers left on board. A teenage girl with glasses and a book bag, and ME. And then, SHE got off. "Alright!" I figured. Non-Stop express home!! Only, the driver just sat there with the front door open looking at me and finally asking if I am going to get off or was I planning on sleeping on the sidewalk. This was the end of the line! In the middle of NOWHERE. Somewhere on top of Mount Scopus. Somewhere.

Not a cab in sight. No one. Nothing. I convinced him to at least take me back to where the Bus Garage is, and I could get a cab from there, and he did exactly that. Fifteen minutes later, after standing outside in the rain and 40 degree weather, a cab pulled up and sprinted me home. Exactly seven minutes away, for $20 Shekels!
Rabbi David Kilimnick is your typical Yeshivah raised and educated Rochester, New York kind of guy. He finishes the Yeshivah and gets Rabinnical Smicha and comes to Jerusalem. Why not? Jerusalem is happy to have him. His students would be thrilled and all would be terrific, right?

David decides that he is going to take a slightly different route and open his own "Pulpit". One different than ANY other in Jerusalem or anywhere in the world, for that matter.

David's place is located at Ben Yehudah Street 34, in the Basement, and the only prayers said there are from the long line of comics, both professional and amateur hoping to get a laugh or two from the packed house almost every night. Mondays are reserved for English Open Mikes, while Tuesdays welcome in a fantastic improv quartet which includes the very funny antics of Michal (originally from New York) and Yechezkel from Montreal.

The comics come from all walks of life and even include Rabbinical Students. One such student is the multi talented Gella Solomon, originally from Brooklyn and headed to JTS in Upper Manhattan this Summer. As a Rabbi, Gella will make noise and literally rock her Congregational World. She is just going to be THAT good. In her spare time, she got a killer singing voice and amazing comic timing. Watch her name: GELLA SOLOMON. We will be hearing from her in the coming years.

Off The Wall Comedy Basement is open Sunday through Thursday and can be found at http://www.israelcomedy.com/.
As we say goodnight from Jerusalem on this Tuesday, March 3, we must continue to remember that our brother Gilad Shalit remains in the hands of Terrorists. Please join me in asking G-d to remember Gilad today and every day, and to bring him home soon.

From the Moshavah HaGermanit in Jerusalem...
Ahavah u'Vrachot - Love and Blessings...


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