Ariel Edery
Olah since 2006

That’s What Friends Are For

Picture by Ariel Edery of Chanukah gift for students

Friends come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes friends are forever with us, living in our neighborhoods, going to the same shops, members of the same synagogue, church, or mosque. At other times, friends are there at a very unique and particular time in our lives. It is as if I needed that friend at that critical moment, and she/he was there for me…at a time when I did not even know I needed her/him.

I drive back and forth to work with a woman named Ruthie (name changed for privacy). Ruthie and I live near Modiin, Israel. We both travel to our school in Rehovot, a 30-minute drive from our yishuvim (settlements) daily.

I met Ruthie at a teacher’s meeting two years ago. She told me she is a new therapist and teacher of Psychodrama at the school, and that she does not have her driving license yet. She asked if she could join me for rides back and forth to school. And so, our friendship began.

Ruthie lives in a Hareidi neighborhood called Kiryat Sefer (Modiin Ilit), and I live in a Dati Leumi neighborhood called Hashmonaim. Although we come from different backgrounds, we both love our jobs working with students at our Rehovot Amit Hallel High School.

The rides we take together are often the highlight of my day. We share classroom ideas, and we talk about our families, our children, our neighborhoods, and our politics. Nothing is held in contempt. Everything is allowed, and throughout it all, Ruthie has helped me improve my spoken Hebrew to a level in which I never thought possible.

Fast forward to this past Thursday. I was rushing to prepare a Chanukah party for my 9th graders. I was late, I was rushed, and I was panicked. Ruthie got a ride earlier than me because I was running late. I quickly dropped off some Chanukah treats I had prepared for my students on another friend’s desk. We had made a keychain of different individual prayers for each day of Chanukah. Each prayer was one of spiritual inspiration and reflection.

As I was about to leave the office, I saw a student taking a test. She was my English student last year. I wished her good luck, and turned, slamming the door behind me, Little did I know that I had left my hand holding onto the doorpost. Yes, I smashed my fingers in the door. The pain was excruciating.

I ran to the staff sink and began to scream as I turned the water on my bloodied fingers. Eventually, Ruthie heard me and ran over. She got the school Medic to come check it out. She held my hand and told me to breathe. Eventually, it was decided to go to the hospital because we were not sure if I had broken my fingers.

We called my husband and told him to meet us at the hospital. Ruthie said she would not leave me and she accompanied me by taxi to the hospital. She held my hand, she helped calm me down, and she and I joked a bit while we waited for someone to take my vitals. Ruthie was my angel, my friend, and my advocate…all wrapped in one.

Eventually, my husband arrived with my stepson, and we decided that they should go back to school. Ruthie still had her classes, and clients to attend to. So, my stepson and Ruthie went back, where he picked up my car and drove home to await further instructions.

Of course, Ruthie was the first one to call me, to ask what happened, and she continues to reach out. She, and my entire staff at school, have called, written, and asked what they can do for me. I joked to them all that I would not be getting any Acrylic Gel nail polish for a while. Honestly, I was not a fan of it anyway.

I have a small fracture on one fingertip, broken nails, and bruises. I will go to a specialist in Hand Orthopedics on Sunday to decide what needs to be done after this event. And meanwhile, I am awed. I am truly overcome by the emotions of knowing that sometimes friendships develop by the hand of God. We randomly become closer to that special someone and we are drawn to their brilliance and their guidance. A friend like Ruthie is not someone you meet every day. She is someone who is just “there” for me whenever and whatever happens. And, I Thank God that she was there for me yesterday to help me in my pain. I only pray that I do the same for her.

This friendship reminds me of Amelia Aloni, the young hostage who was recently released from her Hamas captors. She was home recovering for a bit and then asked her family to go to her Kindergarten. She wanted to return to her friends, and her life before captivity. She wanted to see her friends.

The video of Amelia hugging her friends as her teacher leads her to her classroom door is priceless. Her smile is wide, as her friends surround her in a circle that consists of smiles and hugs. She is loved, she is valued, she is a forever friend. It does not matter what Amelia saw, or what she experienced….her friends will be there forever.

This video reminds me of the classic “That’s What Friends Are For” sung by Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross, and Whitney Houston. Friends are forever, Amelia, yes they are.

Words to the song That’s What Friends Are For:

And I never thought I’d feel this wayAnd as far as I’m concernedI’m glad I got the chance to sayThat I do believe I love youAnd if I should ever go awayWell, then close your eyes and tryTo feel the way we do todayAnd then if you can remember
Keep smilin’, keep shinin’Knowing you can always count on me for sureThat’s what friends are forFor good times and bad timesI’ll be on your side forever moreThat’s what friends are for
Well, you came and opened meAnd now there’s so much more I seeAnd so by the way I thank youOh and then for the times when we’re apartWell, then close your eyes and knowThese words are coming from my heartAnd then if you can remember
Oh, keep smilin’ and keep shinin’Knowing you can always count on me for sureThat’s what friends are forIn good times and bad timesI’ll be on your side forever moreOh, that’s what friends are for
Keep smilin’, keep shinin’Knowing you can always count on me for sureThat’s what friends are forFor good times and bad timesI’ll be on your side forever moreThat’s what friends are for
Keep smilin’, keep shinin’Knowing you can always count on me for sure‘Cause I tell you that’s what friends are forFor good times and for bad timesI’ll be on your side forever moreThat’s what friends are for (that’s what friends are for, ya)
On me for sure (count on me for sure, count on me for sure)That’s what friends are for
Keep smilin’, keep shinin’
Burt Bacharach / Carole Sager
That’s What Friends Are For:  ©‏ BMG Rights Management, Songtrust Ave, Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner Chappell Music, Inc
About the Author
Ariel Edery is a mother (and mother-in-law) of three IDF soldiers, a trained Clinical MSW, an English and Diplomacy teacher at Amit Hallel Rehovot, and the author of Gila Makes Aliyah, Menorah/Koren Publishers.
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