A Woman of Virtue… Who Can Find?

In the midst of the past four months of violence and murders daily in various cities and towns across our country, I asked in one of my articles if one day the press would report some good news, some pleasant news such as “Boy Scout helps elderly woman to safely cross a busy street”. It wasn’t meant as a joke but as a serious plea to hear some encouraging news for a change.

Finally it happened yesterday. In a significant contrast to the racist actions of Jewish passengers on an Athens-TelAviv flight to force two Israeli Arab men to disembark, the female driver of Dan bus 129 on its way from Tel-Aviv to Petach Tikvah stood her ground and refused the demands of her Jewish passengers to evict one elderly Arab man from the bus.

Ignoring their vocal and ignorant remarks, the driver, 54 year old Ruti Tehrani, stopped the bus and walked over to the elderly Arab passenger. He appeared to be ill and was incoherent, mumbling to himself. Ruti determined that he was not a threat and announced to the other passengers that anyone who was unhappy could leave the bus. Several of them did.
Bus 129 continued on its route to Petach Tikvah arriving safely.

Ruti Teherani is an example for all of us. King Solomon wrote his famous line in chapter 31 of Mishlai..the Book of Proverbs. In it he asked “Aishet chayil, mi yimtza?”… A woman of virtue (valor), who can find….?
And yesterday we found one…. Ruti Tehrani.

Her praises should resound in all corners of the world. Let her virtue be announced with Israeli pride that we do have some very decent citizens in our country who will oppose racism and discrimination where they find it.

What a delightful story. And what a difference from the Aegean flight from Athens when 60-70 Jewish passengers demanded that two Israeli Arab men be forced to leave the flight. And what a shame for the Greek airline to accede to their demands. The pilot of the Greek flight en route to Tel-Aviv should have declared “this flight will leave on time as scheduled. Any passenger who is unhappy about flying is free to disembark”. But no such declaration was made. And two innocent passengers were forced to leave the plane simply because they were Arab citizens of Israel, traveling on Israeli passports and ID.

Where will this racism end? Will a Jewish customer at a café refuse to eat the meal she ordered because it was served to her by an Arab waiter? Will a passenger hailing a taxi ask the driver if he is a Jew or an Arab before stepping into the taxi?

I know that all of us have concerns and fears. I understand it. But it is often exaggerated and without reason.

Last year, my wife and I together with two friends were enjoying a lunch at Darna restaurant in Jerusalem, famous for its Moroccan cooking and décor. As we left, we hailed a taxi and asked the driver to bring us to the kotel (Western Wall) and to wait for us. The driver was a pleasant-looking young Arab.

From the kotel we asked him to drive us home to Rishon Lezion, a drive of about 45 minutes. During the drive he chatted with us and he and one of our friends from Morocco sang old childhood Arabic songs.

We noticed that the driver was taking a different route from the one that we were accustomed to and we questioned why he was going in that direction. He replied that it was a shorter route but as it came very close to the Palestinian territory, the four of us became alarmed and frightened.

We thought of demanding to get out of the taxi. We were subjected to an irrational fear. Where was this Arab driver taking us?
But after a few moments in which we sweated, we saw familiar Israeli road signs and realized that all was well. And he brought us safely to our homes.

Fear is a terrible emotion. It overpowers us and controls our senses. It is something which we experience almost daily. If I go shopping at the Kanyon Hazahav, will I return home safely? If I sip my café hafuch outside at an open air café on a busy street will I be safe from the harm of a passer-by who looks like an Arab?

These thoughts are always in our minds. But we understand that no one can know his fate and we trust in God, in our security personnel, for our safety and well-being. We need to enjoy life.

Ruti Tehrani is an inspiration for all of us. She refused to heed the cries of panicking passengers and she fulfilled her duties with courage. The Dan bus company can be extremely proud of her. She exemplifies the woman of virtue of whom Solomon wrote.

And what a pleasure it is to read some good news…for a change.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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