Zipping around This Holy Land; Sometimes Very Slowly

This past yom shishi we found ourselves with time for brunch with some of our grandchildren.  The weather was glorious and we had invites for all of the Shabbat big meals, plus a motzei party.  Eating was to be a problem only in its excess.  So we decided to eat some more and headed to Jerusalem for a delectable Israeli breakfast at a cafe on the beautiful Derech Betlechem.

All was well.  The sun was bright. No jackets or winter gear was needed.   The cafe was filled with my favorite types of customers: young couples with their babies!  Isn’t it really wonderful to see our population being fruitful and multiplying!  In short we had a delightful time, ending only because of the impending arrival of Shabbat.

In the no good deed goes unpunished mode we invited one of our grandchildren’s friends to hop into our car for a trip to Modiin that she was making for Shabbat.  No problem at all we reassured her.  We’d pass right by Modiin on the way back to Herzliya.  At most it would be a 15 minute detour.  Why should she take multiple buses?

And so we piled into our little Peugeot and all went well for quite a while.  Our trusted friend WAZE told us to turn right at the sign for Modiin Illit; it’s near Modiin but it’s in the territories and not part of the Modiin we know.  No problem.

We never argue with WAZE,  She knows best so we turned right and headed up the road to our destination.  Except that suddenly we were at a full stop, as were the cars in front of us.  Complete stop.  WAZE started to panic. I swear I could hear it in her voice.  She continuously changed our arrival time.  When she got to an hour and a half we also panicked.  Shabbat was not imminent but in an hour and a half it would be.

WAZE, as usual had a solution.  Calmly she suggested a detour.  A 27 mile detour which would get us to our destination in less time than sitting in the traffic jam where we found ourselves;  a mere three miles from our destination.

We had a conference with votes going in different directions.  At last as our friendly WAZE counselor kept upping the estimate if we stayed put, we decided to do the detour.  Twenty seven miles for three?  Not very appealing.  We opted for it.

The detour took us through byways where we had never been and they were picturesque.  We eventually arrived, dropped off our relieved passenger and made our way back to Herzliya before candle lighting time.

This may surprise some of our American friends but driving in Israel is statistically much safer than driving in the United States.  Check it out for yourself.

It’s also far more entertaining and dynamic.  So much going on on the roads.  Impossible to drift off.  Maybe that explains the disparity in traffic accidents.  In America so many of the big highways are so tedious.People actually do fall asleep.  Here never!

The other day for example I was driving on a very busy street in Petach Tikvah. Think Queens Boulevard or Broad Street in Newark.  I tried to reach the speed limit but the traffic was heavy and slow driving was de rigeur.That was lucky!  Lucky for me and definitely lucky for the  unknown pedestrian.

They have these zebras in Israel which are exactly like American crosswalks.  They are frighteningly dangerous.  A pedestrian can just arrive at the zebra and go.  He can be wearing black and crossing a dark street with lots of fast moving vehicles, at night, but he’s got the right of way and the drivers better remember that!

This gentleman, younger than I but no kid, decided to cross at a zebra. on said very big and busy street.  He didn’t look.  He must have assumed that our daughter Amy, sitting in the back seat, would scream out Ima Stop!  She did and I jammed on the brakes as he crossed in front of  me, impervious to the tragedy that could have been.

In Israel, there’s never one of anything.  Things just catch on. Things like zebras and traffic circles and motorcycles that truly believe the speed limits don’t apply to them and that the right shoulder is, in fact, a legal lane for motorcycles.

And let me not forget those sprouting toadstools known as electric bikes which dash around the sidewalks or streets with, apparently, no age restrictions or licensing. And not much common sense either.

Now we’ve begun to see electric scooters.  My husband, almost 80, wants one of those.  This will test the mettle of our marriage!

And have you seen those adorable, plastic wrapped golf carts which ancient Israelis, say 85 and up, use to do their shopping.  It was their feet that got them to reach old age.  All that healthy walking.  But now they’ve discovered wheels (a little bit later than Neanderthal Man) and they creep around on the city streets and sidewalks at five miles an hour, possibly with impaired vision and hearing.  Trust me.  I’m almost of their generation.  I know of what I speak!

So driving here is an adventure.  Gotta love it!

About the Author
Rosanne Skopp is a wife, mother of four, grandmother of fourteen, and great-grandmother of three. She is a graduate of Rutgers University and travels back and forth between homes in New Jersey and Israel. She is currently writing a family history.