My husband is extremely good at finding furniture. He found me a washing machine about two months into when we started dating (The only downside to owning a laundry machine: It comes with the expectation that you’ll actually do laundry).
So this past week, there he was, with a fever, dragging a second-hand lounge chair up our street, as I clomped around uselessly in my flip-flops, trying to fix my scarf. It was a hot day, and pretty soon we were both standing there, two very sweaty statues, the lounge chair for our new apartment lying between us. That’s when a man appeared with a rolling cart.
“I saw you struggling”, he said, “I live in this building. Take the cart. Take my number – give it back when you’re done”.
That’s exactly what we did. I don’t even know the man’s name.
People often ask me why I made aliyah. I don’t have one good answer: I have many little answers, all strung together into one giant quilt that shields me on the rare days when life in this country seems hard.
But here is one of them: Israel is the type of place where strangers constantly seek to help others. What happened to me and my husband is not the exception: It is the rule of daily life here.
According to “Ethics of the Fathers”, the sin of Sodom was that each person took a “Your problem is your problem, and mine is mine” attitude – this is precisely the opposite of the attitude to be found in Israeli society. Israel is a place of caring and kindness, making it the type of society I want to live in, and God willing, to raise a family in.
This is probably the only country where you can walk onto a bus full of strangers and walk out with a handful of friends and invites to a shabbat meal – and that’s pretty cool.
It’s cool enough to make me grateful to be living in the marvelous city of Jerusalem, as I sit on my comfy lounge-chair, trying to ignore the pile of laundry I should be doing, instead of writing these words.