Horn Honking in Israel

I grew up in a place where drivers rarely honked their horns.  I remember being taken aback during my first visit to NYC to hear horn honking often.  Of course, New York horn honking doesn’t compare with Israeli horn honking.  I have studied this matter for several years now and want to share the various meanings of the honking of the horn in Israeli life: Sometimes there is a gentle short honk, with a very light touch, which simply says, “I’m here.”  This honk is similar to a rather affectionate honk that says, “Careful.”  Sometimes the horn, perhaps with a smile, says, “Come on now.”  Often the horn simply reports, “The light is about to change.” Or, “The light is changing.”

Then there are the more insistent and demanding honks: “I told you to get going.”  “Watch out, I’m coming fast.”  “Get going, you bastard.”  “What the hell is going on here?”  “This whole country makes me sick and I hate Hamas.”  “You are all a bunch of idiots.”

Israeli comedians have often pointed out that this is the only country in the world where the accelerator is connected to the horn.  And, finally, it is important to remember that the Jews do have horns and they know how to use them.




About the Author
Bill Berk was born in California and graduated college from the University of California, Berkeley. He attended rabbinical school (HUC) and served congregations in Palo Alto and Phoenix. Bill made aliyah in 2006, and worked at the Hartman Institute running their educational programs for rabbis. He has worked at Keshet and Makor in the field of educational travel.
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