100 Things I love About Living in Israel #003
The average Israeli taxi driver could be a history professor in a university. Others could be stand up comedians. And still others could lecture on how Israel’s original socialistic economy nearly sunk the nation. My point is that when you get into an Israeli taxi, be prepared to get an education.
I think we have the most intelligent, entertaining taxi drivers in the world. Once, in the middle of our GOD TV Israel tour, our taxi driver gave us a thrilling retelling of the Six Day War. Another time, our driver was so funny, that Elana and I were laughing uncontrollably. And then, he offered us food and coffee…all in a ten- minute trip!
The Israeli taxi driver is nothing like the New York taxi driver, who is often a struggling immigrant. The Israeli is native. He has fought in wars for his country. He will not allow you to look down upon him, no matter how important you think you are. He will talk back to you, correct you and make it clear that he is every bit your equal—and then some.
“I hope it is not the same woman!”
Today, I was coming home from filming in Jaffa. Elana had the car (one difference between life here and in the US is that most families can only afford one car!). My taxi driver was talkative. I shared with him about making Aliyah (moving to Israel) and learning Hebrew. Then, I told him that my wife was Moroccan. (To be clear, Elana is full Israeli, but her background is Moroccan. Most Israelis, or at least their families, came from other countries. Moroccans are one of the largest ethnic groups here.) He told me that he was married to a Moroccan, too!
We talked more and I mentioned that Elana grew up in Ashkelon (on the southwest coast, just above Gaza) and he said, “My wife grew up in Ashkelon.” Then I asked what neighborhood, and it was the same. Then he said, “I hope it is not the same woman!”
Cursing with Joy!
Another time, I was with two friends from America. I started sharing with the driver in Hebrew about Yeshua. We had a great conversation. When we got to our destination, I asked if we could pray for him. The Spirit of God touched him and he yelled in English, “Jesus was Jewish. Jesus was the [blank-ing] Jewish!” It is not the normal response you expect from someone who has just had revelation. But if God had ever chosen to be blessed through foul language, this was it.
I have never met a taxi driver in Israel who didn’t think he was smarter than me! I have had some of the most stimulating conversations with taxis drivers. From politics to religion, I love to engage them.
“That Guy Believes that Yeshua is the Messiah”
My favorite taxi story of all happened not long ago. I am the regional director for GOD TV in Israel. Our CEO Ward Simpson, who is also my best friend and a Jewish believer, was here for the week. We were on our way to meet a colleague for lunch.
I noticed the driver was not talkative. So, I said to him Hebrew, “That guy behind me is a Jew who believes Yeshua is the Messiah!”referring to Ward. I wanted to see how he would react. Suddenly, he yelled in a thick Hebrew accent, “Oh my God! Oh my God! Are you CRAZY?”
We were all laughing after I told Ward what I had told him (since I was speaking Hebrew). Then he started singing a very famous Hebrew song called “Mashiach, Mashiach, Mashiach.” It is a song about the coming of the Messiah. The words are so powerful that he was laughing.
And even though he may tarry,
nonetheless I will wait for him
I will wait every day for him to come.
I believe with perfect faith
in the coming of the Messiah, I believe.
Mashiach, Mashiach, Mashiach oyooyooyooyooyoo
Messiah, Messiah, Messiah oyooyooyooyooyoo
I started singing with him and videoed the last bit as we arrived at the restaurant. And, yes, I have the video to prove it.
With taxis in Israel, you can learn so much and you never know what to expect. If you find yourself in a taxi here, make an effort to engage. You will be better for it!