The dairy aisle in a Jerusalem supermarket 370 .
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
So what was I doing behind six shopping carts at the local Shufersal Deal
supermarket in Mishor Adumim on a Friday morning? After all, as far as I’m
concerned hell hath no more infuriating nadir than being stuck in that place at
But I had no choice: We had returned from a long overseas trip
on Thursday evening and if we wanted to eat on Shabbat, it was the Friday
grocery zoo or bust. I hadn’t kept up fully on Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu’s new coalition or President Shimon Peres’s American trip, but one
blaring newspaper headline had reached me before I got home to Ma’aleh Adumim:
“Shufersal Deal out to murder [competitor] Rami Levi.”
take-no-prisoners price war had broken out, apparently, which even a friend in
distant Pisgat Ze’ev gushed, was attracting her weekly to one or the other
emporium in our town.
My worst fears were instantly confirmed. The
usually bare parking lot had overflowed onto adjacent streets stretching three
blocks in every direction.
The glazed expressions of entering consumers
mirrored the grim fatalism of soldiers about to enter battle, while the jubilant
looks of the exiting victors towing ridiculously filled carts reflected raw,
There I was, in dire gloom, cart frozen well
distant from the cash register. I was sorely aggrieved.
remembered a flash of soul-searching during my flight when I promised I would
try to improve my grumpiness a bit and seek alleged silver linings even in
(I get weird thoughts, and also swollen ankles, on
10-hour flights.) What could I do save give my commitment the old college
Here are the observations that ensued during the next 40
A few decades ago, our people faced starvation in
the ghetto and worse in the camps. The images haunt us to this day.
here, in Mishor Adumim, hundreds of Jews in shorts and sandals (many chunkers
among them), were inundated with fine, healthy, nutritious food... at cutthroat
rates priced to put a nearby competitor out of business. What a remarkable,
epiphanous and profound change. No joke – I would say it borders on miraculous
when seen in this light.Law and order
Not usually an attribute
associated with Israeli social norms, but here we were. A nasty environment,
crowded and frustrating... yet I couldn’t help but notice how everyone, without
exception, stayed calm (even resigned), didn’t shout, didn’t whine, didn’t act
like babies. It was downright civilized. It disproved the global image that
“Israelis do not know how to stand in line.”Respecting the different
saw two handicapped people. One was a Down Syndrome child with his dad.
The other a severely handicapped woman navigating the maze with difficulty,
burdened by two crutches and a cart. No stares. No averted glances. No looks of
pity or annoyance. As naturally as could be, the carts parted, Red Sea-style, as
everyone readily made way and moved aside and even smiled...not
grudgingly or artificially, but naturally. It was nice to see.The peace
I know crass consumerism can’t bridge the entire Arab- Israeli divide,
but there is something to be said about the commonality of getting a good
Arab women, covered albeit in festive demeanor, husbands,
babies... they were all well represented. Again, it might not be the magic
formula, but a vibrant economy in which all parties reap the benefits can
clearly encourage a peaceful attitude far quicker and more seriously than
umpteen squawking talks around conference tables.
What would generic
observations be without, ultimately, a final test. After the 50-minute marathon
wait, I received my own personal test.
The lost hour of course meant that
we missed the final home delivery.
Now that wasn’t fair, I thought,
eyeing our 18 bags of groceries. Our first inclination was to yell it out with
the manager and insist on our “rights.” I duly dispatched my “personal
commando,” i.e., my wife, dutifully escorted by the cash register guy, but
suddenly all my positive thoughts flooded back and I realized this was a
Dare I make those five carts now lined up behind me wait
for 10 minutes of silly arguing, or should I just forget about it? I canceled
the fight and decided that three trips up and down three flights of stairs were
preferable to making those folks behind me wait even one minute
longer.The writer is a Jerusalem-based media adviser who lives in