A True Story: in Tel Aviv Jail, 1950

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Prisoner In Tel Aviv, C- 1950

By Dr. Matania Ginosar

With Razia hugging me so tight, I was not aware of traffic signs and drove directly into a one-way street near Dizengoff Square in Tel Aviv.

Out of nowhere a young policeman on a small motorcycle waved me to stop.

I usually drove slowly and rarely had violated any traffic laws on that slow, retired military BSA motorcycle we were riding on. So, I did not know what to say to him when he admonished me for driving carelessly.

"What did I do?" I asked him

"You drove against traffic."

"There was no stop sign."

"Yes, there is, just look back."

From the back I saw the sign, but from the way we came it was obscured by tree branches. I explained, but he did not care, gave me a ticket, and told me to appear the following week before a traffic judge.

"But I am in the Air Force; I cannot just take off to court."

"Oh' you can, just tell them that you had a ticket and you must be there."

I shrugged my shoulders and drove away with my Razia, she was, uncharacteristically quiet all the time.

When the elderly, but feisty judge heard my short story he just said: "Ten Pounds fine."

"But Judge, I do not have so much money, I am a private in the Air Force and get 4 pounds a month!"

"One day in jail," he answered.

I was frustrated, but controlled my tone.

"But Judge, I have to be in my IDF base in Sarafend, I cannot just go off duty to jail."

"Yes you will, and tomorrow you will be bright and early, 8 am, at the central Tel Aviv police station to serve your sentence. This jail experience will teach you a lesson!" He said tersely.

"Yes sir!" I said and left before he could increase my jail term.

The next day I came to the police station, before the paper work arrived and the elderly policeman in charge did not know what to do with me. He thought a few seconds and said: "You look like a nice guy, sit at the dining table with the policemen having tea."

"Yes sir." and I went there.

After a few minutes a graying police sergeant looked at me with a lot of concerned and asked me what I was doing there, a soldier in uniform, with the off duty policemen drinking their tea.

I explain the case to him, and he asked me: "Do you have a girl friend?"


"What is her name?"

"Why do you want to know?"

"It is so boring being alone. If you give me her name and address I will send a police car and bring her here to spend the day with you."

I thought he was kidding me, but gave him her name and address.

Twenty minutes later Razia came in full of vitality and loveliness to spend "my prison term" with me at the police station. The sergeant followed her with a big smile on his kind face. I nodded my head in thanks to him- a big smile on my own face.

Razia and I had a lot of fun talking, joking and sharing stories with the off-duty policemen, while they shared their tea and lunch with us. Men could not avert their eyes from her easily. I did not like it....

At 4 pm the officer on duty called me to his elevated desk.

"You served your 'prison term.' Time to go home." He said.

I smiled with thanks, and left with Razia willingly, and we walked into the lovely afternoon Spring sunshine of Tel Aviv.

The judge was right, that "tough" prison term thought me a lesson....

The kindness of strangers comes in different shapes. And that was one of a multitude of beautiful experiences many kind "mentors" gave me on many occasions throughout my life.


from the 2015 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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