My friend dropped me off across the street and pointed out the shelter where the minibus stopped. “The 16 sherut will take you straight to the train to the airport,” she said. “Don’t get on the 4 or the regular bus.” I wasn’t sure if she was telling me to avoid the normal bus because it didn’t go to the same destination as the sherut did, or because the large regular buses are often the target of suicide bombers. (They’re larger, and they’re government-subsidized; both are attractive reasons for a potential terrorist to get his bomb on.)
Not that it mattered. I liked the feeling of the private minibus. The clientele was a mish-mosh of scraggly hippie kids, snowman-shaped Russians, and old ladies with shopping trolleys bigger than they were. Before that, though, I stopped to pick up some rugelach.
Now, rugelach are an important part of any Israel experience. Fresh from the oven, painted with honey and sticky from melted chocolate and cinnamon that’s still oozing out the sides. I know people who’ve finely tuned the art of buying a box of Marzipan rugelach straight from the oven, hailing a sherut to the airport, and landing in New York 10 hours later with the gummy dough still warm and the chocolate still drizzly.
But Marzipan, and the people buying it, had the disadvantage of being in Jerusalem, which is an hour away from the airport on a good day. I was in Tel Aviv. And I was, by my friend’s estimation, 20 minutes from the gates of Ben-Gurion International.
So I popped into the closest store with a kosher certificate. I picked out a selection — mostly cinnamon, a few chocolates, some savory triangles to satiate that side of our mouths. (And by “our,” I mean my wife and kids, because if I got away with one whole piece of the loot, it’d be a good day in Brooklyn.) I picked up the tongs. The guy yelled at me that I shouldn’t touch all the rugelach, that I was taking too long. I told him that I was choosing them for my kids; I was about to get on a flight to America.
The other baker looked up from across the room. “Do you live in New York?” he asked, in Hebrew. And, when I nodded: “In Queens?”