How Not to be a Freedom Rider—in 20 Easy Steps
1. Subscribe to “The Pluralist,” IRAC’s email newsletter
2. Go see Anat Hoffman speaking at your local congregation in February and get VERY excited about the “Jewish Rosa Parks.”
3. Decide that since your congregation is going to Israel in the summer, you should, too.
4. Decide that riding a segregated bus is very important and that you HAVE to do it even if it means going three days out of your way.
5. Email IRAC. Get no answer. Decide they are just busy.
6. Talk to relatives in California, who say it’s a great idea.
7. Get elected President of your super-liberal congregation.
8. Email IRAC Get no answer. Become too busy yourself to worry about it.
9. Make plans to go to Israel in late July and stop for a couple of days in Jerusalem, where you have no cousins that you speak to and actually are afraid to visit because of the Haredim, simply to be a freedom rider
10. Tell your Yiddish class about it. Nod sympathetically when they caution you to not get arrested.
11. Scour the IRAC blog for instructions on how to go on a freedom ride, and follow their instructions, which include calling a travel agency named Da’at, and emailing them. Get no answer from IRAC, but speak to the person who returns your call, a guy named Mordechai at the travel agency who says “ Ride any bus you want, what’s the problem?”
12. Blog about doing a freedom ride. IRAC still doe not answer your email.
13. Take Easy Jet from Edinburgh to Tel Aviv, switching planes in Luton, where you are amazed at juxtaposition of an obviously Haredi family, four kids and Mom’s pregnant with the gay male couple standing next to them in the line to board. Look for signs of abnormality in the Haredi couple, don’t find them. Don’t speak to them, either. Or the gay couple, since you are busy catching a cold.
14. Arrive in Israel late on a Thursday, sleep at a friend’s house in Tel Aviv who gets so exercised about Haredim in general you never get to talk about your Freedom Ride idea.
15. See a cousin on Friday have her tell you that first, you got a fact in you blog post wrong and second, her sister, who changed her name to Devorah because a big rabbi who gave her a blessing that got her successfully through a difficult pregnancy (her fifth in seven years), rides those busses.
16. Join some more cousins on a dati Moshave for kabbalat Shabbat services and dinner and have a wonderful time have trouble getting to sleep because you have a runny and get woken up by a rooster and a runny nose at 3 am.
17. At breakfast, talk to your dati cousins who are modern Orthodox, therefore do not NEED segregated busses about your Freedom Ride “Oh, the Rosa Parks thing,” they laugh. “If these people could just charter private busses, there would be no problem but Egged, which is government company wanted the Haredi bus business.”
18. Begin to doubt yourself on the ride to Haifa on Saturday, impressed that the dati cousin helped you get to your car, and her 4 year old son, when told that you were driving on Shabbat because some people do that, said nothing more acrimonious than “Hm.”
19. In Haifa on Sunday, look up the IRAC webpage. Dial. Listen to the Hebrew notice that says something. Call a friend you haven’t seen in 40 years and get the new number from her. Call IRAC and leave them a message. Find their Facebook page. See two new groups of freedom rider on the Facebook page. Feel foolish. “Like” the IRAC facebook page, and email them again. Get no answer for four hours. Nap. Get reminded it is Tisha B’Av, so they probably aren’t at the office.
20. Doubt yourself some more. Get nervous about the drive to Jerusalem. Wonder if IRAC isn’t talking to you because they are a subsidiary of the Reform movement, which your congregation did not join.