Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Verbal snapshots of Israel, part 3


Israelis have done an excellent job of designing traffic patterns in such a manner that pedestrians and vehicles never have green/walk lights at the same time. Crossing the street is safer here. I was very impressed.

In addition, Israeli buses have "stop" buttons on the standees' poles on the aisles. Standees don't have to lean over the seats and practically fall into people's laps to push the "stop" button or pull the "stop" cord. That's really nice.

And the group taxis--moniyot sherut (?)--are a great idea. Unless the passenger has a ton of luggage, why put only one person in a taxi when the taxi can carry four people and enable them to split the tab?

Lifnei iver . . .

On the other hand, the US is way ahead of Israel in one area. The Torah (Bible, "teaching") tells us, "You must not mock the deaf, nor place a stumbling block in front of the blind (Vayikra K'doshim, Leviticus chapter 19, verse 14). Never mind the rabbinic interpretation--this is one of the few commands of the Torah that I accept literally. When my parents first made aliyah ("went up"--moved to Israel) almost 20 years ago, my mother expressed her dismay that a country with so many disabled war veterans made so few accommodations for persons with disabilities. To this day, the quantity of madrégot (stairs) and the dirth of maaliyot (elevators, lifts) make life difficult for the elderly and persons with mobility challenges. Having a ground-floor apartment is no guarantee of accessibility: One must climb both steep ramps and stairs even to get to the ground floor of my parents' apartment building.

At the Israel Museum, which has wonderful exhibits, we were taken aback to see that almost all of the stairs were painted pitch black, creating an unnecessary hazard for people with limited vision like N., who, according to American law, is legally blind. N., who works with the blind, told us that, fortunately, Israel is becoming more conscious of the necessity of providing accommodations for persons with disabilities. I hope that the Israeli government will catch up to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 within a reasonable time.

Shalom, lo l'hitraot?--Goodby, not until we see one another again?

On Monday, I walked out of my parents' apartment blinking away tears. "Your presence must have jogged Dad's memory--I haven't seen him in such good shape in months," said my brother. "Don't bother coming back next year--he won't know you by then." My father can no longer remember much for long. One has to repeat things to him six times in the space of an hour. At one point, he mistook me for N., and, at another, he thought I was one of my brother's daughters. And my mother is as thin as a rail: Every few years, she has a major illness, loses weight, and never regains it. Mom is so frail that she can't manage physically without Dad, and Dad needs Mom to do the thinking. No matter who goes first, the other will be hard-pressed to live alone without help. I'm typing this through tears--I don't know whether I'll ever see either of them again.


Blogger PsychoToddler said...

I know that feeling.

Tue Sep 06, 09:56:00 AM 2005  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Sorry it took me so long to respond--I'm still playing catch-up.

Yeah, it's no picnic, seeing what kind of shape your parents are in and wondering "when?," especially if you're not exactly living in the neighborhood and can't really be there for them. We seem to be in somewhat similar situations, in that regard.

Sat Sep 10, 09:17:00 PM 2005  
Blogger Batya said...

I'll bli neder try to check the stairs next time. And if they are still black, I'll talk to someone with contacts.

Thu Oct 29, 05:13:00 PM 2015  

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