Monday, March 30, 2015

Yom Aliyah and the Felafel Guy

Happy Aliyah Day!

Don't feel bad. I didn't know it existed until a few hours ago either.

Today, I am grateful for aliyah, and the credit belongs to the felafel guy I just bought dinner from. Here is what I know about him: There is no chummus at his felafel shop, and a pita only costs 7 shekel.

We have had exactly two interactions.

The first time we spoke, he asked if I put ketchup on my felafel because I am American. Nope, I replied. I just like ketchup. It's time for you to learn of techina, he said.

The second time was tonight. I had the longest day. Action packed since 7:15 in the morning. I stumbled up to the felafel store counter, half regretting my decision to forgo pizza - but the felafel was closer. And they had french fries. He served me my chummus-less felafel, no tomatoes please, with fries on the side. I took out my credit card to pay.

"Ah," he said. "We don't accept credit."

On a normal day, this would not be a tragedy. But today, of all days, I just wanted to eat. And I had no cash.

"It's okay," he says, and I think he'll tell me that he can wait while I run up the street to take cash out of an ATM. "You can pay me next time you come."

"I'm going to America," I tell him.

"But you are Israeli, right? So you are coming back."

"Of course."

"Okay," he says. "So what's the problem?"

I leave, felafel in hand, and feel the stress of today melt away.

I am Israeli. I am the person that he can rely on to pay him back. I am the other side of the deal. He must be trusting, and I must be trusted.

This is not the first time I have encountered the natural Israeli kindness, or their confidence in the goodness of others. I have had hundreds of monumental "Israeli" moments. But on this day, this Aliyah day, it meant so much more to me.

I walk home, and a bike rider zooms past me, a near miss. A cat with gleaming eyes is camped outside of my building, hoping to sneak in the door behind me. My backpack is heavy, and I am so, so tired.

There are ups and downs, good days and bad. But I wouldn't trade living here for anything.


  1. I hear ya, friend. It's good to be Home, with Family.

  2. Batsheva... I'd like to email you... my name is Shayna Bennett Bentley. I'm from Detroit originally too. When you have a chance, could you e-mail me at I'd love to "chat" with you about your experience in Bais Yaakov... I'm wondering what could be done to make the experience for Bais Yaakov girls better. Thanks a Million!!!