Strangers of Kindness
by Laura Ben-David
One morning, fully loaded with a computer bag on one shoulder, a purse on the other, and my variety of can’t-leave-home-without-’em gadgets in my hands, I was heading toward a Jerusalem bus stop for the last leg of my journey to work.
I clipped my iPod onto one of my pockets, stuffed the earbuds into my ears, and sauntered up the street to Duran Duran, while browsing my Android phone for any emails that may have come in the past five minutes and that surely couldn’t wait the additional five minutes for me to get to the office.
Almost at my bus stop, I looked up from my phone surprised to see my bus pulling up to the stop just ahead. Never one to miss an opportunity to run like an idiot so that I don’t miss a bus, I dashed forward, clutching my bags close to me, Duran Duran cheering me on with their rousing 80s rhythm.
As I pushed forward, almost there, I felt the plug of my earphones disconnect from my iPod. Simon LeBon was rudely silenced, but I was undeterred as I leaped onto the bus just before the mechanical doors pivoted closed behind me. I was thrilled! Another challenging race against a bus with me coming out the victor!
I rummaged through my purse for my bus ticket, presented it to the driver, and gathered up my things to find a place to sit for the short ride. As I began making my way to a seat, I noticed a very religious-looking man seeming to be approaching me with purpose from further back on the bus.
If you don’t know Jerusalem well, you may not realize how unusual it is for a haredi man to be approaching a random woman – non-haredi, no less – on a public bus.
He was holding something out with his hand, further perplexing me, as I vaguely wondered if he thought I was someone else. But no. He looked directly at me as he was getting closer and then deliberately handed me the object, telling me to keep it securely in my pocket.
Thoroughly bewildered, I stared at the object in confusion until I realized it was my iPod! There was no doubt about it as I saw the display screen counting down the final seconds of ‘The Reflex,’ playing silently to no one.
How did he get my iPod? Briefly contemplating the ridiculous notion that this man was a magician performing a trick on a rush-hour traffic Jerusalem bus, I realized what must have happened. Since he was approaching me from the back of the bus, the only explanation was that when my iPod came unplugged from the headphones during my mad dash, it had actually come unclipped and fallen onto the sidewalk.
This gentleman must have seen me from the bus window when I dropped it, made his own selfless mad dash off the bus to retrieve it, and jumped back on. It was returned to me before I’d even known it was lost.
How many people would care so much to make all that effort for a random stranger? I’d like to think many. In a society perceived to be so religiously polarized as Jerusalem, it is delightfully refreshing to be able to share a kindness that crosses several sectors of society.
This is MY Jerusalem. Jerusalem (of the hearts) of gold.
Inspired by her Aliyah experience, Laura began writing and never stopped. She is the author of the book, MOVING UP: An Aliyah Journal, a memoir of her move to Israel. She has spoken about Israel and Aliyah all over the United States and Israel. Formerly the head of social media at Nefesh B'Nefesh, Laura is currently the director of marketing at Shavei Israel, as well as a marketing consultant.