Our Taxi Driver
Hooray for Mayer, our taxi driver! We are keeping his card, and insist that everyone we know who wants a friendly driver to use Mayer's services when visiting. Mayer is a "type" we're becoming familiar with here in Israel -- a burly man, vaguely Eastern European in heritage, but born here in Israel, married and 8 children ranging in age from 9 to 24. He is warm, affectionate, curious, and so proud of his country. Our language barriers are nothing when we are with Mayer. His hand sweeps across the Negev, proclaiming its vastness. He discovers new routes (Israel's first toll road is being built between Jerusalem and Haifa), and we experiment with them, feeling completely safe. He points out cities, his voice letting us know whether they are Palestinian or Arab Israelis, Jews, and religious Jews. He joins us on our tour of Zippori National Park, equally curious about the mosaics and the countryside, staying to read the Hebrew inscriptions below the clay pots in the museum. I find out that at one point on our journey, while I am inside visiting another elderly home, Laurie has carefully explained to him that we live together, without husbands. His response is curious, with no disgust. "This is okay in New York?" he asks. When she says for some it is okay, he nods and says "very different. Like in Tel Aviv." He seems far more fascinated by the fact that we have a woman rabbi, though.
(Laurie adds; He was actually thrilled that we had a woman rabbi. "I think is good," he announced firmly. "Woman is ima (mom) - woman is doctor, soldier, (prime) minister. Why not rabbi?" I told him that even in NY, there were Jews who thought it wasn't OK, and he nodded in sympathy. "But you do it anyway," he said, almost like a command.)