Faith in strangers.

September 22, 2021.

I could tell this story two ways. In one of these versions, I am cynical and angry at the people who stole from me and the police who did nothing to help. The other way I can do this is by focusing on the incredible Israeli strangers who helped me for no reason other than the kindness and compassion in their hearts. I choose to do the latter because, well, who wants to be angry and bitter when the universe is begging me to see the beauty of humanity?

With that being said, I’m sad to report my purse got stolen. My phone, credit cards, driver’s license, bus pass; all of it suddenly gone in the blink of an eye.

Roommate selfie in the police station.

Going to the police station to file a report was one of the most frustrating things I have experienced here. After blowing me off, my roommates and I were told to just go home because the investigator was busy talking to people who were arrested for “real, serious crimes”.

I left the police station feeling betrayed and hopeless. I felt like this country I loved and trusted so much had just betrayed me in more ways than one. Not only did my most important belongings just get taken from me, but I felt like nobody cared to help. The frustration brought me to tears as I arrived empty-handed to my apartment. 

But then, the universe smiled at me when an angel of a woman (Miriam) messaged my sister on Instagram saying that she found my purse on the beach. Apparently, the thieves were only after my phone and cash, so the rest of the contents of my purse were discarded in the sand. I couldn’t believe it; I was going to get everything but my phone back just because this woman took the time out of her day to help a complete stranger. 

Miriam explaining the story of how she found my purse via Instagram.

Miriam’s outlook on the whole situation was contagious. She wrote to me in what I assume was translated English, “The world is round. He who does good, the good returns to him! You’re probably good people.” I couldn’t help but feel like this was a gift from God, or the universe, or whatever you want to call it. I started to forget how terrible it was that my phone was still gone because I kept focusing on how incredible it was that she had found the rest of my stuff.

You know that saying, “When you focus on the good, the good gets better”? Well, once I opened my heart to the good that still existed in this world, it kept flooding in.

The following day, my roommate, Izzy, and I met up with Miriam and she immediately pulled me in for a hug. She apologized for all that had happened to me and told me how happy she was to help. Although I barely understood Hebrew and Miriam’s English was out of practice, with the help of Google translate and Izzy’s basic Hebrew language skills, Miriam invited us into her home, gave us water, and we got to know each other a bit. 

When she learned that my phone was long-gone, she immediately started calling her friends to see if someone had a used iPhone I could buy to save me from having to pay full price for one at the store. Turns out, I was in luck! A friend of her friend had one, and he (Eli) was willing to sell it to me for almost $300 cheaper than the store would. (He even threw in a screen protector and an old phone case too). The only problem was that we had to find a way to get from Petah Tikva to Ramat Gan. 

Miriam, Izzy, and me.

Miriam continued to be the kind soul that she is and offered to drive us there. We drove 30 minutes to pick up Eli from the street in Ramat Gan, and headed to the nearest ATM to pay for the phone. We said our goodbyes to Miriam, thanking her endlessly for the generosity and Israeli hospitality she extended towards us in those last 24 hours. 

Still on a high from the past events that seemed to just unfold perfectly in my favor (or at least as perfectly as they can after getting my stuff stolen), we headed to our next and final stop: Hot Mobile to get a new SIM card. To my surprise, I was in and out of the store within 15 minutes–sent on my way with the same phone number (yay!) and no fee to pay. It was so simple, because the kindness didn’t end with Miriam and Eli. 

A customer waiting in the store helped us translate at the check-in kiosk when she noticed us struggling, and the Hot Mobile worker spoke perfect English–making the explanation of my situation so much easier. Just like Miriam, they were both extremely sympathetic and apologetic of what had happened. 

I left Hot Mobile feeling the exact opposite of how I felt leaving the police station less than 24 hours prior. I felt supported and hopeful about the community I was now a part of. 

Someone who has never been to Israel probably thinks it was crazy, naive, reckless, and even dangerous to put such faith in these strangers I just met–and maybe it was, but every single person I tell this story to who has been here, who has experienced the beauty of Israeli community, knows that this is just what they do. Israel is like a giant family, and the average person doesn’t hesitate to help you out in times of trouble. 

It would be so easy to focus on the few people that caused this terrible situation, but instead I choose to see how many more people were there for me when I needed them the most. 

I have to say, I never thought that getting my purse stolen would make me so grateful to be living here in Israel. 

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