I read this story, posted by a Facebook friend, and asked permission to repost it.
With thanks to Batia Macales…a beautiful, only-in-Israel story…
Only in Israel
“In our area, the fires were just over the hill. They were so close that we could feel the heat, cough from the soot and ash, and hear the sirens… a lot. It was all anyone talked about. Some were packing and all that. Many parents didn’t let the kids out to avoid inhaling whatever chemicals may be in the air. Everyone cursed the Arab-arsonists with all their heart.
During the height of the action, I went to the local makolet [local mini-market] and stood in with my items. The line, as you can imagine, is long. People are buying cleaners of all sorts because everything is covered in soot.
“Slicha! Excuse me!” a guy shouts, “But I must go to the front of the line!”
He is holding a box of toothbrushes and a lot of toothpaste. He said that he only had a half hour off work, and since there was a lot of traffic, we had to let him through quickly.
Geez! A man wants a bunch of tooth brushes to stock up for the next ten years! Urgent, you know?
Well, one lady told him off, “Look! We are all on edge! Did you inhale Carbon Monoxide or whatever? No? Then stand in line! Here, we have no idea whether we will have a home tonight. Even if we have a house, between the planes and helicopters, and the sirens, and the smoke, who can sleep? And you need toothbrushes?”
Turning from him, she said to no one in particular, “I guess everyone goes crazy in different ways!”
I must say that the man was big, very big. If he had wanted to, he could have pushed her (and everyone else) out of line. Instead, he blushed and somehow drooped his shoulders.
He softly replied, “I am taking these to the shelter. There are people who only have their purses and a few diapers. Who remembers a toothbrush when you only have five minutes to evacuate? Food, drink, and clothes, they are getting. But no one thinks about toothbrushes, so I thought I’d take a half hour and get some… to make lives more bearable. You know?”
The line got very quiet and cleared a path for him. As he approached the cashier, the woman who yelled at him came running with all the pacifiers that were on the shelf.
“Take!” she commanded. “There are babies, maybe not everyone has pacifiers! I’ll pay for them!”
Immediately, all the customers abandoned the line and began sweeping items off the shelves – Toothpicks! Lighters! Even cloths to clean glasses! They dropped everything in the man’s basket!
“Do you have room for more in your car?”
One person asked, as people continued bringing miscellaneous things.
Meanwhile, the man just stood there, smiling like a birthday boy who just got a huge surprise! Now I’ve got this unbearable burning in my nose…
And I think to myself, “I was in a war. I know what it’s like. Besides, I’m grown, married and all that.” But I can’t help it. I am just about to cry—my soul was wide open! We are all one. The man tries to pay something but the store owner turns him down.
“My grandfather was a Rabbi,’ he explains, adding “My Zaide would turn over in his grave if I took your money! Go! Go!”
I mean, who could imagine. But that’s not the end! In the back of the store stood a “Russian.” He was as non-Jewish as you can get. He was standing with a carton of milk and a bun in his hand.
With trembling lips and a tear on his cheek, he cried out in a thick accent, “You people!! I want to be like you!! I want be a JEW! Take me please!”