Waiting for the Train to Netanya — More Israel Impressions

At the Binyamina Train Station

–Smartly dressed middle-aged woman, precise makeup on her beautiful Middle Eastern face, talking animatedly on her cellphone to someone she clearly loves, but with whom she is at this moment very angry, for reasons I cannot understand.

–Hip, female teenager in ripped blue jeans, listening to music on her phone, standing several feet away from a man wrapped in tefillin and a tallit katan holding a prayer book.

–Young man in shorts and a t-shirt strolls by. He must be from a colder climate like me since he’s dressed appropriately for 68 degree weather!

A group of young soldiers, some holding machine guns. They are so young, their baby faces make me want to weep. They are talking and laughing with each other, friendly and helpful when we ask for information about the correct train. Their guns barely look real, are they plastic? Are the soldiers in a video game? No, this is no game. The blood of these children will bleed hot and red as will the blood of those they kill. I whisper a prayer.

Several frum women, so young too, long black skirts, very modest coats, hair wrapped in a sheitel or covered with a scarf. They rest their hands on carriages holding adorable babies, swaddled in winter clothing and blankets. After all, it’s winter here and only 18 degrees! I wonder if I learn to say “beautiful child” in Hebrew, would these somber women recognize me as a kindly safta, and smile at me? Their serious husbands, fathers of these beautiful children, are not there, so maybe they would. For a moment, perhaps, I could reach across a divide and just be one woman smiling at another.

Israel, as I have experienced it so far, is like a giant quilt. The individual pieces of this quilt are familiar images–people, religious, secular, agricultural landscapes, the sea, sky and plants. The jackals that howl outside at night remind me of the coydogs back in New England. The constellations are familiar, the moon passes through her appointed stages. But the intense and intimate mix of all these diverse images is new. I want to look in every direction all at once, and feel pleasantly overwhelmed by all I see. How long I will be here is not certain, but for now I really live here.

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