Friday, October 16, 2009

Swirling Thoughts #60 – some follow up

My gas balloon came. I am putting off the aggravation of doing bloodwork for at least a couple of days. Someone asked me a while ago to describe, step by step, how a tremp works. I have a classic tremping story which I’ll tell first.

An angel, a Rebbetzin and a tremp
I had taken a car we were considering purchasing to be looked over by our local mechanic. I was in the makolet with 3 out of 4 kids when the mechanic called to tell me it was ready. Out loud but to myself I asked, “How will I get to the mechanic now with no car and three kids?” A lady (really an angel sent by Hashem) walked by and answered me in perfect English. “I’ll take you. Where do you need to go?” I insisted she did not want to take me – having some premonition about my kids’ behavior (or maybe just experience from knowing what time of day it was), I explained that I was traveling with three little monsters. Now she insisted that it would be fine and we all piled into her car. My kids, not wanting to make a liar out of me, turned out their best performance of their worst behavior in the history of their lives. There was screaming, pinching, hitting. Then there was the kippah being dangled out the open window. Followed by more screaming, pinching, hitting. Did I mention screaming?

I was thinking of Rebbetzin Churba’s sage advice – pretend they are someone else’s children. Still not sure how that works. Okay so you don’t take it personally when your children defy you but are you somehow less mortified when you are taking someone else’s children on a tremp and they behave this way? I was ready to open the door and roll out of the moving car when the screaming changed to excited yelping and there were actual words. “My tooth! My tooth!” followed by “Becky’s bleeding!” and then there was me (speaking in an unnaturally calm – read: super scary – voice), “Please do not get blood on this woman’s car.” By the time we realized that Becky had swallowed her tooth (the very first one she ever lost) we were at our destination and not a moment too soon. Though the fighting had shifted to a heated discussion about tooth-fairy practices once a tooth has been swallowed, Becky’s mouth was now spewing blood. And as I simultaneously pulled the kids out, apologized and thanked the woman (and Hashem for not letting Becky’s blood get all over her car), I felt, very acutely, that Efrat may not be big enough for the anonymity I sometimes require as the mother of my, Gd bless them, children. Fast forward to Sukkot, more than a month later. One of my dinner guests mentioned the kind lady by name. “I hope you didn’t tell her you were coming here!” I exclaimed. “She must think we are the craziest family in Efrat! I think she may be scarred for life from picking up trempers because of me!” In fact the lady had told my guest how nice we were and to please tell us hi and send warm regards. I guess for her, they really were someone else’s children.

The nitty gritty. A tremp, step by step.
So I tremped home Monday from Jerusalem. Actually I took a taxi from Wolfson to the Gilo Junction – basically the southernmost point of Jerusalem where the “tunnel road” or the “60” starts. The taxi driver asked me if I live in Beitar since I was obviously going to now hitchhike home – within Jerusalem people don’t really hitchhike but to get to the Gush and certainly within the Gush, tremping or hitchhiking is a mode of transportation as common and as acceptable as driving. So why did he say Beitar as opposed to Efrat, Neve Daniel, Bat Ayin? I can only guess it was something about the way I was dressed that day. There’s sort of a guessing game people play here – based on how you are dressed, how your hair is covered, and if you are a man, how you wear your payis, your beard and which type of gun you are toting – to see which yishuv (settlement) you come from. I told him I’m going to Efrat. Him taking me to Efrat wasn’t even an option. It’s like the cabbies who don’t want to drive from Manhattan to Brooklyn. Times ten.

So anyway, he dropped me off at the junction which has a bus stop although I’m not sure how often a bus actually stops there. I’m really a novice tremper but my understanding thus far is that to tremp a ride you stand up from the bus stop by about 20 or 30 feet so it is clear you are not actually waiting for the bus. Bob tells me there is an actual spot where Efrat trempers stand at the Gilo junction. I haven’t figured this out yet. There were about six other people standing there with me. I should have probably announced to them where I’m headed (still not sure about the drill here) but I didn’t. Several cars turned the corner. Some of us held out our hands (no thumbs! Right hand held out, pointer finger pointing). Some did not. The thing about cars who will now come and offer you a ride is that they are going to come and offer you a ride no matter what you do with your hand. These cars simply turn the corner, stop at the junction, call out their destination and if it’s good for anyone, that person hops in. If not, they continue on their way. It’s not like you have to flag anyone down. I guess this is why not everyone holds out their hand. It’s sort of a foregone conclusion.

The first guy to come was a Bat Ayin guy. As he pulled away I was thinking I need to spend more time tremping to succeed at the guessing game I described earlier. I had picked him for a Hebron guy. Then an Efrat guy came but since I told no one I was heading to Efrat and he drove up and away so quickly, only speaking to one of the group, I missed him. At this point, I announced loudly, “I am going to Efrat. Any part of Efrat.” Not two minutes later a lady drove purposefully right up along side of us, announced she was going to the northern gate of Efrat but no further and one of the other trempers signaled to me. Here was my ride.

So now, there’s tremping etiquette. You get in, you buckle up and you be quiet. If the window is open, you leave it open. No phone, no speaking unless spoken to. Since she spoke only really fast Hebrew, there wasn’t even speaking when spoken to. We listened to Gal-Gal-Gal-Galatz (the pop music station in Israel that plays Israeli music, American music and then music which is in English and sounds American but which is so raunchy and dirty you can’t believe you are hearing it in the holy land followed by the DJ announcer saying Shalom Shalom!).

And so goes a (typical?) tremp. I got dropped off at the northern gate (really quite desolate) and within 30 seconds was picked up and on my way to a point on the main road where I can walk down a hidden staircase to my front door. Easy peasy.


  1. Oh...I miss Gal-Gal-Gal-Galatz! And Reshet Gimel. (and sometimes Radio Lev HaMedina - but don't tell any of my Ashkenazi family....)

  2. Tell me , what is the plan to get to Hospital???
    Dad was going to drop me off on the road with a big sign, "Holy Cross, or Bust".

  3. I found a Google alert for my name, Tremp, referencing this blog. I had no idea "tremping" was a term. So I Googled tremping and found out it meant Israeli hitchiking. Cool. Also discovered there is a town in Spain called Tremp. And all this time I thought I had an obscure name.

    Stephen Tremp

  4. Lisa, I am Roz a friend of your Mothers and I enjoy reading about your new life in Israel...I look forward to seeing what is going on and since I have 6 grandkids I laugh at the goings on....Your blog is full of love and happiness(OK,most of the time!!) Be well and good luck with the new baby

  5. Lisa, what is GUSH?

  6. GUSH is Gush Etzion, the settlement bloc in which i live - made up of several yishuvim (settlements) including Efrat, Neve Daniel, Alon Shvut, Beitar and more. It is located about 10 minutes south of Jerusalem. Public transportation is minimal here.