The cashier is smiling at me. All of a sudden, the cashier is smiling at me.
I stop by my local grocery store every evening. I always buy something. But a large part of the reason I go there is to be with the people who work there who are like family to me.
That is the real beauty of living in Israel. After you become acquainted with people, they become like family to you.
Over a year ago, a new cashier starting working at the store. She is very severe and seldom smiles. She is all business. The only time she speaks is when, after finishing her scan of your groceries, she tells you how much you owe, but her expression never changes. Her thick Russian accent betrays her place of birth.
My daughter and I would talk about her. “She never smiles," my daughter said. “I wonder why."
Russians can be very severe in their expressions. They are intense people who feel deeply and it seems that, often enough, their default expression is a stern severity. Just as Americans have a reputation for being happy for no reason, Russians are known for being expressionless and stone-faced. I would smile at her on occasion but get nothing in return, not even the slightest eye contact.
But then the cashier suddenly started smiling at me and I think I know why. I asked for her name and the name of the city she comes from. I asked her about the Russian winter. I asked her how many hours she worked. I really made just the smallest of small talk but now she smiles at me.
This is one of those “if I only came to Israel for this: dayenu" moments. In this case, “if I only came to Israel to see her smile: dayenu (it would have been enough).”
Breaking the ice on her smile gave me an enormous sense of joy and now, each time she sees me, she smiles, and the feeling is breathtaking but more. It is much like the feeling we will experience, I am sure, when redemption finally comes.