Sabine Sterk – The old lady in the bus
The transportation system in Israel is rather good. Busses and trains are always available, the only trouble one can experience is the problems most Israeli’s have with lines. Where in most countries people wait patiently their turn, in Israel it is the survival of the fittest. Specially on Sundays it is a real challenge to get on the bus. Soldiers with big backpacks and guns in their hands trying with dozens to get into the same bus. But as a real Israel and IDF supporter I believe each and one of them are heroes, so for me It does not matter if I have to wait a few minutes longer, knowing this girls and boys will probably have another tough week ahead.
If you finally made it and you can take your seat, it is really comfortable, enjoying free wifi, phone chargers available , you can sit and relax while the bus driver takes you through the crazy Israeli traffic. On one of these journey’s a lady came to sit next to me. I estimated her age like 60 years old. She started to talk to me in Hebrew, in my best Hebrew I told her “ ani lo medaberet ivrit” what means something like i do not speak Hebrew. She looked at me and said in perfect English “be glad you can not understand the radio, it is only horror, nothing changed here for ages”.
She asked me what I was doing in Israel, told her about my dedication and love for Israel, she told me she sensed my pro- Israel attitude and came to sit next to me. Then she started to talk, she was 93 years old (!!!) born in Israel. Her parents came from Poland far before the second world war started. They settled in Israel , escaped the growing anti-Semitism in Europe and hoped to live peacefully in Israel.
The lady was born in Israel and the living was hard for the family, there was almost no money and they lived from what the land brought them. Once a year they went a day to the sea and that was a big happening . Although the financial circumstances were difficult she was happy and getting along with both the Arab as the Jewish neighbours.
She married and in between her growing family and her work as a housekeeper, she started to study. She became a professor in Hebrew Language. In 1948 Israel was born and her husband went to war several times. The lady noticed the hostility between Jewish inhabitants of Israel en Arab inhabitants was rapidly growing. It made her sad but she was happy with her family. She gave her children everything what she possibly could give, she travelled a lot, gave them the best education and the word “no” did not existed in her vocabulary.
But Israel that should be a paradise of peace and tranquility, brought them still a lot of fear. The hostile attitude of Arabs, the wars, the terror attacks, all of this made living not easy at all. But the lady worked hard, her children went to army, fought in the 6-days war in 1967 and in the Jom Kippur War in 1973. All of them, like a miracle, survived, although some of them fought in special forces and had extremely dangerous tasks. The lady had tears in her eyes when she told how grateful she was when the war was over. It made her change her life. She was not happy in her job and decided to dedicate her life to victims of war. She went to study psychology and became a very successful therapist with her own practice. Life was good the years after the war.
Her children grew up and left the house and she got many many grandchildren. Fear was always there but it disappeared to the shadows of her life. Until one day, there was an explosion, terror-attack, a knock on her door, crying relatives. One of her sons with 2 of her grandchildren were hit and died on the spot. Devastation. The woman was now crying with silent tears.
She told me after the funeral she asked herself, why? Why she stayed in this country where everything is difficult. No matter how hard she was working, it seemed there was always fear and pain. Maybe she could better leave, go to the USA or Canada, why she should stay in Israel, where the danger was always present?
Her son came to her and took her hand, he said; mother my grandparents and you build this country, gave all your good years to it, you were happy, you took care of your children, learned us to appreciate our Jewish home, taught us to defend it with our blood and tears, you made our country blossom and flourish. You invested so much in it, always looking for peace and happiness and now you will leave our country? The country your son, our brother and children died for? You let evil and terrorism win? If you do that mother Israel is lost and the work of generations is lost
Here, the old lady kept silent, she looked at me and said: “ Do you understand how important your support for my beloved country is? Do you understand that without love and hope our country is lost? We must stand with Israel as it is the Jewish Homeland
The bus stopped, the old lady shaked my hand and said “ keep telling the truth” and left in the sunny day…