8 of the Sixth Month 5768
Ever since I first started tremping (hitchhiking) eight years ago, it has gradually become a staple of my getting around Israel. Nowadays, I mostly just tremp to work in Jerusalem, but take the bus home. I also tremp westward toward Tel-Aviv and to the beach, but take buses back at least part of the way. There isn't any bus service after 9pm-ish from Ariel to Tapu'ah. So I'm careful not to come back too late. The later it gets, the lower the chances are that there will be tremps.
Over the years, I have made some observations about tremping. Hopefully, the will be of help to some of you. Please feel free to leave links to your favorite trempings posts and tips in the comments.
I have met some interesting people, including at least one fellow blogger through tremping. Of course, I bump into Batya periodically on the road. She has written about some of her tremping experiences as well. Several years ago, Treppenwitz wrote his own guide to hitchhiking in Israel. I purposely haven't read it yet. (But, now that I have finished writing this post, I want to see what he came up with.)
I have also had some of very interesting conversations tremping, Torah, political, cultural, you name it. Usually, I bring something to learn, these days, the Mishnah Torah. I have been in tremps where everyone was learning, sometimes together, sometimes individually. I have been in many tremps when the driver is listening to someone else read, or to a recorded shi'ur or text.
I have certainly bumped into more than a few, fellow North Americans. Often we stick with Hebrew when we talk. Sometimes we switch to English.
I met my dog's future veterinarian tremping. Some of you know "Dr. Donny." How many frum vets from New York could there possibly be in Israel? Now, that's networking for you!
Twice, I even received a tremp from Rabbi Gen. Avihai Ronski, Chief Rabbi of the IDF. I addressed him as "HaRav." He asked if I knew him, to which I responded, "Um, no, not personally." I think he got the message. He was even in uniform. Say what you will about "rabbis," but I am always pleased to see them "not above" doing misswoth, in other words, practicing what they preach.
Tremping Priority Rules:
There are certainly a few mahloqoth (disagreements) regarding the following rules of who has priority over whom, when a ride arrives, and there are several people in line. Consult the map for clarification of location terms.
1. All things being equal, whoever is first, gets in first. It is possible that someone will politely ask, "I know you're first but I'm late for work. Do you mind if I get into this tremp?" Then you have to decide.
2. The exception to this is a parent with a baby waiting in the freezing cold, late at night. Most people agree that this person is given precedence.
3. The other exception is [in my not so humble opinion] that with people leaving Jerusalem (Giv'ath Tzarfatith), the person traveling farthest has priority when the ride in question is continuing past the destination of those trempistim fighting to get in, no matter how long they have been waiting. Did you get that? In other words, if there is a tremp from Jerusalem to Yitzhar, the person going to Tapu'ah (like me) has precedence over someone going only to Ofra. Tremps to Ofra are a dime a dozen. Tremps farther north are not so common.
I have had to fight more than once over such a tremp, with the residents of one particular town [which shall remain nameless, but you can look at the map] only a hop skip and a jump away from Jerusalem. This is one of the reasons I now try to avoid tremping out of Jerusalem. Giv'ath Tzarfatith can be a real mad house. Although now that school has started, things have probably calmed down, except for Thursday nights.
Rabbi Ronski seemed to hold by the distance rule, so that's good enough for me.
4. However, if the is a tremp, say, to Shilo or Eli, people who are going to Eli itself have precedence, even over those going farther. This is what we call a tremp yashar (direct ride).
5. Whatever the driver says, goes. You have a right to scream and yell about it, but I doubt it will help. Once I was getting into tremp, when a young lady arrived to wait for a tremp. The driver then told me that he preferred to give a girl a ride instead. I was dumbfounded. It was because of kidnapping attempts. I responded with something like, "Then why do her parents let her take the risk and tremp?" Well, I didn't exactly "respond." It was more like,...yelling. I recognized where this girl was from. She almost didn't get in, because she wanted to be fair....which brings me to the next rule...
6. Tremps should never go to waste. If people before you don't want to get in, and hopefully do not try to read your mind and wave the driver on, then get it, if you believe the ride to be beneficial to you. This girl obviously knew rule #5, and got in. The driver's decision wasn't her fault.
7. Back to the driver's choice, if s/he sees friends at the trempiada, tough luck. Get some new friends with cars, is my only advice to you in this situation.
The following rules are pretty standard. Some trempistim are stricter than others; some drivers are also stricter than others.
1. Be careful with your bags, that they do not scratch the vehicle, or bump into the heads of other trempistim.Tremping Laws:
2. Ask if there's room first, before getting in. Some backseats may look like they have enough room for three, but the driver doesn't want the extra weight, or perhaps a friend will be picked up on the way, etc.
3. Make sure the vehicle is going to where you want to go, AND is willing to stop where you want to get off. Remember, whether you agree with how the driver does things, the car belongs to the driver, not you. S/he can do whatever he wants.
Beware. Sometimes a driver will make a stop
4. Be careful not to slam doors, spill food and drink, etc.
5. Ask permission before making a phone call. Most people don't care, and will look at you like you're being silly. I ask anyway, but I guess I'm just stricter than others about this. I have been asked by a few drivers to turn my pelaphone (cellphone) off for the duration of the trip. One man was learning, while his wife drove. Another man likes to chill to classical music on his way home from work. So, respect drivers' requests.
6. I have almost never seen anyone offer to contribute gas money to the driver. The exceptions seem to be if it's your neighbor, or a regular or pre-arranged ride.
7. If someone of the opposite gender is waiting a long time before you, and a tremp with a couple of places next to each other comes along, and you see that person waiting does not sit next to someone of the opposite gender, please consider giving that person a break, and wait for the next ride. This is not a hard and fast rule. It is my rule. Althoug it is true that residents of many towns do not care about this issue, one way or another, this post focuses on the Efraim and (West) Menasheh, home to some of the most observant "Zionist" towns.
You will also invariably come across someone offering a ride who is from Yitzhar, Giv'ath Ronen, and even perhaps Elon Moreh and Beth El Beth who will choose to arrange the seating in this manner. His car; his rules. If you don't like it, you don't have to get in. Likewise, if someone doesn't like a mixed seating arrangement s/he doesn't have to get in either.
1. Where a seat belt. Whatever you think of seat belts, Israel has strict seat belt laws and FINES for not wearing seat belts.Tremping Tips - Jerusalem Northbound:
2. Crossing back and forth between Yehudah and Shomron and the defacto border crossings (which Ariel Sharon denied he was creating with that dumb "security fence") you are required to have a te'udath mishlo'ah in the event you are conducting commerce. You do not have a right to do any harm to your host/driver. So, if you are conducting commerce, you had better have your papers in order, so that you don't cause problems for innocent by-standards.
3. It is illegal for a soldier to tremp. I believe this is for safety and security reasons. S/he gets free bus fair while in uniform. So, it is not necessarily a hardship. It depends on how long you have to wait for the bus. Buses can take a lot longer to get you where you're going than tremps, too. Soldiers have told me that if a soldier is seen in a car by Military Police, you probably will not be stopped. The driver can always say that the soldier is a friend, and after a ride together may even be telling the truth. However, if a soldier is spotted getting into a car at a trempiada, s/he may get stopped for questioning.
4. Once while walking over to wait for a tremp at Tapu'ah Junction, I saw some kids yelling for an Arab to move along, and wait a distance away from the designated area. A cop pulled up, and asked to see ID's from everyone involved. The Arab produced a blue, "Israeli" ID. So, the cop said he had a right to stand there, too. The reservist [with the earring, long ponytail, and Russian accent - not that there's anything wrong with that], trying to intervene was asked what it mattered that Arab "citizens" waited next to them. The kids started giving him reasons why. I interrupted and said that "even leftists don't like getting blown up." The reservist, and everyone else, was quiet, and he walked away.
5. Although I'm all for "free speech," [if we were in a real democracy and were not obligated to follow the Torah, which does not allow for saying anything we want], and "freedom of assembly," I am against the incitement and the endangerment of our soldiers' lives for the hell of it. Thus, I ask that you be on the look out for that evil group of mostly women, calling themselves "Machsom Watch." A hot line has been set up, to combat the danger they put our soldiers and citizens in, on a regular basis, through intimidation and harassment. So if you see these people, please call the hot line at 050-5580822 to report them.
My general rule of thumb is that it's always good to progress. There are a few exceptions.
1. I wouldn't bother with Hizma anymore. No one seems to stop.
2. Standing on the street at Me'ever Mikhmash (the gas station) or Giv'ath Asaf and 10 sheqqels won't even buy you an ice cream. Oh, I've done it, especially early in the morning. But it's hit or miss.
3. A lot of people don't like to stand a the Shilo Junction, especially at night, and would rather stay back in Ofra. The same thing goes for Rehelim. I disagree. You always have the added possibility of tremps coming from Shilo and Neve Tzuf (not pictured)
4. Most people tremping to Qedumim and Qarnei Shomron travel through Yitzhar now, and not through Ariel - Barqan - Immanuel Junction. From Qarnei Shomron, you can get tremps to K'far Sava and Netanyah,...so I'm told.
1. Many do not like to stand at Rehalim, and prefer to stand at Tapu'ah. Of course, I disagree. There are several tremps coming down from Ariel. Many of them do not stop, for any number of reasons. But I still say it's worth moving forward, especially if there's a long line at Tapu'ah.
2. I have been told by several people that the rabbi of Ofra does not approve of people waiting on the southbound side of the street, across from town. I received many a nasty face, interspersed among the "I'm just going to ignore you" looks from Ofra residents. I still have to confirm this, though. I'd like to see someone from Ofra try to order me off that side of the street. If the town's rabbi did not allow the picking of olives from a grove within the town he claimed did not actually belong to the town, then he certainly cannot lay any claim to the other side of the street.
3. I do not recommend standing at Giv'ath Asaf. It is my primary exception to the "always move forward" rule. Most drivers feel it is too dangerous to stop. Better wait for a tremp at Ofra.
4. Standing at the Mikhmash/Pesagoth gas station is sometimes a pain. However, there are fairly frequent buses coming in from all over into Jerusalem, AND it's only 3 sheqqels, an amount that many are willing to compromise their tremping principles for.
5. Between the gas station and Jerusalem is the Sha'ar Binyamin Industrial Park (not pictured), which includes a police station, a Leumit Medical Center, [an Arab-filled] Rami Levi supermarket, Shifon Bakery, and mini strip mall. I have seen some stand on the street across from it. Let me know how that goes. I doubt I'll try that anytime soon.
A buddy of mine is know for tremping everywhere you can image, including in the middle of Tel-Aviv. Now, believe it or not, tremping from Tel-Aviv is not uncommon. On the northbound side of Derekh Namir (Haifa/Coastal Road) across from the Kibbutzim Teachers' College, it is common to find trempistim traveling to Netanyah, Haifa, and beyond. The entrances to freeways are also common tremping points. I always see several trempistim waiting both northbound and southbound at the entrances to the Ayalon Highway (#2).
On Highway #4, across from Bar-Ilan University, the popular tremping point there is affectionately known as Tzomet Coca-Cola, as it is next to the B'nei Braq Coca Cola plant. People wait for rides to Jerusalem, the Negev, and everywhere in between. It is also conveniently located next to a Mehadrin Burger Ranch and Hallo Teiman, one of the best shwarma places in Israel. So, there are plenty of people going in and out of there. Some desperate trempistim will actually block the gas station exit, so that you are forced to acknowledge a tremp request one way or another. Pretty chutzpadiq, huh?
Many people wait for tremps at the main entrance to Jerusalem. Apparently, they're waiting to go all over the country, not just Beth Shemesh, Beth Me'ir, Telshtone, and B'nei Braq.
The Giv'ath Tzarfatith trempiada is where to wait for rides north to Efraim, Menashe, Biq'ath HaYarden (Jordan Valley), Beth Sha'an and farther, east within Binyamin, like Ma'aleh Adumim and Mitzpeh Yeriho, and to the Dead Sea, and even to Eilath.
The trempiada in the south of Jerusalem is where to wait for tremps to destinations within Yehudah, like Efratha, Bat Ayin, Sde Bo'az, and surrounds, and farther south to Hevron and Susyah.
There are a few places where people tremp within Jerusalem, like the corner of Hertzl Blvd. & Rav Tzvi Yehudah St. to get to either the Bayith weGan or Har-Nof neighborhoods. Both ends of the Ramoth road serve as tremping points, to travel between the city's entrance, Ramoth, Giv'ath Tzarfatith and continuing outside of the city.
Tremping to and from towns across Israel is common place. The above is just to give you a few examples of tremping in and around Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv areas. Next time you're in a small town, or even a larger town like Modi'im or Beth Shemesh, just ask where the "trempiada" is. Or if you're in your own car, pay attention when you enter and when you leave. It should be easy to find. Major intersections also serve as tremping points, Tzometh HaNegev, Tzometh Golani, Shilath, Yarkon, or Morashah.
I think I would like to tremp to Tiveriyah, Tzfath, or farther The other day, I caught a tremp to Tapu'ah. The driver was on his way to a wedding in the Golan. Tremps like these do come around once in a while. I have had a couple people drive by over the years saying that the were on the way to Tiveriyah. At Giva'th Tzarfatith once a car came by on the way to Eilath.
I'm counting on having to make it in several rides, but you never know.