A daily bus ride

Part one: Tied to his job

Standing on the bus, no seat, tired, a bit queasy with a sprained ankle.

“Glance around-quick” I tell myself. What is there to look at to take my mind off this uneasiness?

Ah, there is something to stare at. A typical Israeli sight- an ironic scenario.
The bus driver is wearing a tie.

My Dr. and lawyer don’t wear ties. My neighbor, the businessman, doesn’t wear a tie. My uncle the engineer doesn’t wear a tie. In fact, most professionals in Israel get away with going to work in jeans. But the Bus Driver! Oh, the bus driver. He wears a tie.

Besides for the fact that a newcomer might look at this as an obscene and backwards picture…I for one found it to be a secret to Israeli society.

We have been struck with terror over and over and over. Many terrorist attacks, statistically, involve some kind of public transportation. Many times, it is the hands of the public transportation drivers that we rely on for safety or rescue. His job description, along with not running red lights, is to keep his eyes open, senses aware, with the ability to slam the door shut on a suspicious “person” or even to shoot someone who might pick up his hand with a knife in hand.

Bus drivers, I salute you. You should wear that tie and you should wear it with pride! You carry us to our homes, our appointments, and our jobs safely. You, holy bus drivers, should wear that tie with a sense of magnificence. Professional in style, courageous in character, bold in personality- that is you Mr. Egged bus driver. You are a transporter of holy souls. Your job is sacred in this country; and even more so in this wave of terror.

I rested my eyes on his tie. Then I relaxed, took a deep breath. It’s people like this that make me want to live here in Israel. The simple folks. Thank you holy strangers of this city. Thank you.

Part two: The Prerequisite for living here

My eyes glance all around the bus, each morning, as I sit in the infamous Golda Meir morning traffic. It’s fascinating to see that as the wave of terror increases, more phones are put away and more prayer books are taken out. No matter who the person is, Charedei, Dati Leumi or Chiloni, people are in prayer these days. There is something remarkable in this country. People, no matter how unaffiliated they are, are true to their souls. They don’t veer from their essence, even if their outsides are seemingly far from spirituality. I encounter these men and women daily. I see something consistent, strong in its message, elegant in its delivery. People are aware that Emunah, loosely translated as faith in the Almighty, is a prerequisite for living in this land.

People traveling to work, traveling to a meeting, to shop, to chill with friends…they are all acutely aware that we have an enemy. The enemy is vibrant, alive…
dagger, in hand
foot, on the accelerator
brain, washed
and fear of death; not existent.

And we stand at the bus stop waiting for the bus, check our apps to see when the next bus is coming, sit on our Egged seats, checking our Facebook pages or prying, looking up every once in awhile to see if our stop is close. Why is it that these people are able to live in the mundane with such passivity when hell is lingering around us?

I see no other answer besides that Emunah is something that is so ingrained in Israelis, in Jews, and that it is part and parcel of their very being. The only understanding I have is that it must be that faith is so built in their systems.

You might call me nuts. After all, I don’t need to look at them in this light. I can see them as shallow, addicted, un-affiliated, lack of G-dly consciousness people. But I choose not to. I choose to see them as,
iPhone (or Sidder), in hand
foot, ready to flee if need be
brain, fully aware of the situation
and fear of death, existent but cushioned by Emunah.

Love of G-d, faith in G-d, awareness of G-d. They might not be religious in orientation, but by the mere fact that they go about their day and carry on normally is testimony to the fact that their faith lies within the realm of true Godliness. They understand, even if it’s subconscious, life doesn’t stop. We go on. If G-d has chosen me to be hurt, killed, or witness an attack, its pre-ordained and it will happen. I have faith that I can’t control it, that I must take the next right action and that G-d knows what’s best for me at all times. He is good, His “actions” are good and I choose to live in faith, not fear.

What other explanations are there for people moving along with their lives through a season of terror?
Yes, they might be more alert of their surroundings when walking through the streets, but few to none are staying home with the doors locked and shades down. When I am on the bus, I look at these beautiful people and see them with shining faith.

Faith, in this country, is a prerequisite of living.

About the Author
Sarah Bechor is a freelance writer in addition to her full-time job at United Hatzalah. She made Aliyah in 2007 and now lives with her husband and children in Gush Etzion.
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