Monday, 20 September 2010

Driving Test

Coming to Israel, I had to get used to driving on the right-hand side of the road and also an automatic car transmission, both of which turned out not to be a problem at all. However, I was also aware that my British license would only last me a year and that I would have to sit a driving test before the year was out. So, last month I started to have driving lessons! After 30-odd years of driving, a test should hold no fear for me – except I had 30 years of bad habits to contend with. ‘You are driving too fast!’, ‘Look in ALL three mirrors’, ‘ You are supposed to stop at STOP signs, not give way’, my instructor screamed!

Anyway the fatal day of the test came, and I was in the instructor’s car with two Americans who were also sitting the test. We took it in turns to drive. The test was fine, though all in Hebrew (!!). One of the Americans ‘kindly’ said that he thought I had failed (he himself had made two terrible mistakes), but I had to wait all day till the results were posted in the evening (one instructor was almost killed when he told someone he had failed, so results are never given immediately). Fortunately (and somewhat to my surprise), I had passed!

Friday, 17 September 2010

Rosh haShana & Ramadan

Over the weekend, the promenade at Tiberias has been thronging with Arab families, celebrating the end of Ramadan. While not all Moslems fast for the month, many do, and I could see how some of the staff at the Hotel really suffered during the August heat, not even able to take a sip of water from dawn until sunset – a long time. So there was none of my usual Arabic coffee at the Maintenance Office, where Ahmed hopes to go on the Haj this year!

The end of Ramadan coincide this year with Rosh haShana, the Jewish New Year. Someone gave me a jar of honey, and I cut up apples to dip into the honey, which is typical for this time of year, a desire that the year to come will be a good and sweet one. Yom Kippur, the day of Atonement, the most holy day in the Jewish year follows ten days later, and these 10 days are called the yamim nora’im, the ‘terrible days’ as someone translated it, or the ‘Days of Awe’. This is a time for introspection, to look at where you are and where you are going in life’s journey. It is also a time to reflect on mistakes made, those whom we may have offended and those who may have offended us, so there is an air of forgiveness and reconciliation. A friend of mine says that Tiberias has a special atmosphere during these days, and I have certainly noticed an air of goodwill. If only it would continue..!
It is always good to witness the festivals of other faith groups, and I always feel there is much to learn from them as Christians.