I arrived in Jerusalem last night, fresh from the Israellycool BBQ at Aussie Dave’s house and excited to go on another adventure. However, this morning everything changed.
I took a taxi from my hostel to First Station in Jerusalem to have lunch with two friends. I had intended to transfer my luggage from the taxi to my friend’s car, but my other friend hadn’t arrived yet, so my friend decided to stay in the taxi and help the driver transfer the luggage in the parking lot whilst I waited for our other friend to arrive.
My friend had forgotten to transfer my knapsack, which contained my passport, my health insurance card, and the one-of-a-kind necklace my boyfriend got me for our first Valentine’s Day four and a half years ago. When she returned, of course I freaked out at her. I burst into tears – I had lost that passport before and had to spend hours on the phone with various places it had allegedly come into contact with and eventually had to drive 45 minutes to the FedEx shipping center to pick it up in time for my trip to Israel. The last thing I wanted to do was spend the last third of my trip at the consulate, or on the phone with the taxi company.
We went to a restaurant, where I was clearly distraught. I was so distressed I couldn’t bring myself to eat anything. The waiter noticed this, and half an hour later, vanilla and raspberry ice cream appeared in front of me, on the house. I was talking to my friend about how I need to go buy a new cell phone charger because I had left mine in my knapsack. A few seconds later, a charger appears on my desk. The family sitting next to me overheard me and told me that I am free to use theirs, charging by their computer.
I was touched, but none of this could give me my passport back and prevent the inevitable headache that would ensue. I called my Israeli friend, who lives in Tel Aviv, and asked him for advice. He consoled me, and wished me the best, but there as nothing he could do.
Just as we were about to leave, I get a phone call from the Hostel. The taxi driver, an Arab-Israeli named Nidal, had noticed my bag in his car when he arrived at his house in Tel Aviv and drove all the way back to the hostel to bring it. I drove back to the hostel, thanked him with a generous tip, and eagerly called my friend to share the good news. “That’s great!” he said, “Now I can come back from the Canadian Consulate in Tel Aviv, where I was going to get you assistance.”
He knew I was in Jerusalem and had a party and therefore couldn’t get to the consulate. So he wanted to get me help himself.
Absolutely floored by the incredible kindness around me, I ask my friend who drove me back to the hostel to get my bag what I ever did to deserve this. She replied, “You’re a sister. We are all a family. It’s what we do.”
We, meaning Jews, Arabs, Druze, and Bedouins. We are a family. Sometimes we have fights, but at our core, we care, and would drive to the other end of the country for one another.
Kindness is the language of coexistence.
This is the real heart of Israel.