on the way


Yesterday, while at Chana’s home in her village, we decided to drive to Jerusalem; there were a few things we wanted to get from my house. But it was relatively early in the day… just about the time when there are traffic jams in the city. Chana volunteered to do the driving so that I wouldn’t suffer the tension of traffic. Once we were in the car she informed her smart phone of our intended trip… where we were coming from, and where we wanted to go.


I have a smart phone too. But the only thing I do with it is to call someone, if it’s really important. I’ll turn it on sometimes, so that I can receive calls if I’m expecting someone to call. My phone isn’t always on. I don’t like to be distracted when I’m busy living my life. And when my phone rings, it doesn’t sound like ‘Yesterday’ by the Beatles. It sounds like a phone sounded 30 years ago. And even so, I find it a distraction.


I don’t know how to take advantage of the many applications, and haven’t made any effort to learn. I don’t say that proudly. That’s just the way I am. I have a great admiration for invention and innovation. But I don’t believe that I have to use every tool that’s been designed to aid human beings in their work or play. I know there are more good things in this world than I’ll ever get to know. So I just search for a tool or utensil when I’m trying to do something, and have the feeling that I don’t have the proper means to do the job.


I had heard about Waze because it was invented in Israel, but I had never had the opportunity to use it. And here we were, on the way to Jerusalem, and there was this very pleasant male voice giving us instructions. Chana explained to me that Waze would offer us alternative routes to my home address, and tell us how much time each route would take, thus helping us choose the most desirous route.


It was amazing from the start. This fellow told us when a turn was coming up ahead. In another 100 meters… or in another 400 meters, we would have to turn right. Get in the left lane, he said, because soon we’ll have to turn left. And so he guided us to the city, and through it… till we arrived at my place. When we did arrive, he told us, without any smugness, ‘You have arrived at your destination’. I was flabbergasted.


But, it wasn’t just directions. This virtual guide knew everything. He would warn us if there was a hazard by the side of the road. He even informed us that there were police up ahead, just so we wouldn’t breeze by at two times the speed limit (fat chance in Jerusalem on a busy morning). If there was high density of traffic at a certain point, he would warn us ahead of time, and also adjust the arrival time in consideration.


For three quarters of an hour, I was in an alternative universe. No longer in the familiarity of my hometown in the 21st century, but back in the 50s reading a science fiction novel about what the future had in store for us. Actually witnessing the future… it was romantic… and so perfect.


And when I thought about it, I knew that it was only a matter of time till the computers would take it the next step forward. I could imagine the two of us having coffee in the car, face to face, the air conditioning keeping us in optimal weather… pleasant music in the background, and the car itself being driven by the computer. There’d be less accidents that way. The computer would reroute traffic so as to maintain maximum speed on the road, and we would enjoy the calm and have the opportunity to watch the scenery as we traveled.


For me, it was delightful being a passenger. I could lift my camera as we went through the city, and take a few shots along the way, so as to give you a view of what Jerusalem looks like from the car. Usually, I’m driving. And often I see a sight worthy of recording, but have to stop the car and find a parking spot if I wish to photograph. But not yesterday. I took a few shots through the windscreen of the car. Today you’re on the road with me. The pictures on this post are all from yesterday’s visit to Jerusalem.



55 responses to “on the way

  1. Traffic seems better then here, Istanbul 🙂 Thank you dear Shimon, have a nice weekend, love, nia

    • I really have no idea how the traffic is in Istanbul, my dear Nia. But that is the advantage of this Waze set up. The computer finds the easiest way, I suppose.

  2. The traffic doesn’t look that bad considering it’s Jerusalem! I don’t have a smart phone, so I can’t use Waze or anything like that. I have to rely on knowing where I’m going or reading a map.

    • I understand you well, Cardinal. I do have a smart phone, but am so backward, I just use it for normal telephoning. But as for the traffic, that is the whole point… the waze helps you avoid the traffic jams along the way. Thanks for the comment.

  3. I see the traffic is at its usual ‘pace’ around the Cinematheque. (?) Many places you drove through I have walked, a number of times. The trams connected the outer edges to the city, making it easier for residents, and visitors alike to see more, much like your evocative car journey for you. The Egged buses also broaden the horizons.
    Using the smart phone as a satnav is very common, taxi drivers in many countries are using the facility. I am going to give it a try on one of my local journeys. One taxi driver I met had his smart phone set for credit card payment, as an alternative to the official card machine in his cab. I was not so keen on that process. The weak point was battery life, just as the card was presented to the phone screen, (not my card I hasten to add) the screen died, it turned black. The driver had to switch on the official machine again.

    Happy memories!

    • From what I see, a lot of people have their phones hooked up to the cigarette lighter in order to get a constant supply of electricity. And it is amazing, how many things benefit from the digital revolution. I’m so glad, menhir, that I am able to remind you of your times in our city. Yes, we did drive right by the cinemateque, and David’s tower… a trail that may have interested many visitors. Many locals as well. Thanks for the comment.

  4. Love the journey…..like you, only use my smart phone for the occasional call or text out….have it turned off 99% of the time because I find the noise upsets my concentration! I have been in cars here as a passenger – (stopped driving blessedly 21 years ago when I returned from the States) and find the female voice in UK quite interesting…although not always accurate, and Google has put a driverless car on the market, and so you could be experiencing that before you move onto the next level. Have a fantastic weekend and a big hug for Nechame:)x

    • You and me both, Janet. I find the phone very invasive of privacy since we let it climb off the wall and sneak into our pockets. It does seem at times as if we have to make the choice to be ‘connected’ or to live our lives. As for driving, I’ve been having heretical thoughts about that too. As the city becomes more and more intense, I fantasize giving up the car altogether. It’s just that I like taking an occasional trip out to the country. But at some stage, I think it’ll become more bother than it’s worth. Maybe even now, I would have it easier without a car. A delightful spring to you.

  5. Technology can be utterly practical and wonderful, and/or a waste of time. It’s great to discover the right applications. I love the way you tell, and show, stories, Shimon.

    I’ve yet to get myself a cell phone of any kind but it is slightly tempting.

    • Thank you so much, Karen. I don’t want to say too much, if you’re tempted. But I do believe that we all have different needs, and in my case the need for peace and quiet is much greater than the need for instant communication. Even so, I got one because of work… and when I don’t really need it, I just turn it off. Thanks for the comment.

  6. I always love your photos of Jerusalem, Shimon. The light and air have such clarity…reminds me of Out West in my country. 🙂

    I not only don’t have a smart phone, I frequently forget to turn my “dumb phone” on in the morning. I think I would love an i-phone and justify owning it just fine, but I use that money for gardening, photography, pet care, books, and films…and organic food I can’t grow, which is expensive, but important to my health…so, for now, no smartphone. Somehow, I’m surviving. 🙂

    I have to admit that while I recognize the convenience of traffic guidance, I also love navigating using maps and instinct…more of an adventure for me.

    Glad to hear you’re out and about with friends and having adventures of your own! Joy and gentle peace to your Shabbat, my friend. Thank you for another wonderful post and the chance to visit Jerusalem uniquely.

    • Yes, those dumbbells were an example of modesty just a few years back. I don’t think I appreciated them enough. I liked the ones you could stick in a corner, and just visit them when you needed them. Like yourself, I like an adventure. And thank you so much for your Sabbath greetings. This evening we begin the Pentacost holiday, when we commemorate the giving of the ten commandments, as well as the subparagraphs and little letters involved… My best wishes to you and yours. Always so good to hear from you, Kitty.

  7. Better than a GPS which points you to the the first route you approach from the location you’re at. Not the shortest or most efficient route. GPS doesn’t know aout parades or road construction, either. Have fun! Enjoy the scenery.

    • It doesn’t surprise me at all to learn that you’re more in the know than myself, Barbara. I know they are making cameras with GPS built in, these days. But I still haven’t discovered how to use this new technology. I let the younger folks point me in the right direction, and hope that the sky doesn’t fall down. And you know, it is fun. And I love the scenery.

  8. Dear Shimon,
    Your post made me smile. I recognized myself in it! I don’t want a Smart Phone, because I don’t want to have to learn how to use it when my dumb phone works just fine. But my son uses his all the time to get us where we are going. When he leaves, I might have to get one.
    I am glad you have such a good friend in Chana!
    Best wishes,

    • So glad I brought you a smile, Naomi. I do really think that that is my favorite technology for getting around in this world. And my children too… even grandchildren are far more dexterous than I am when it comes to these contemporary tools. But good friends are a blessing, and I watch the future approaching. Thank you so much for your sweet wishes.

  9. P.S. I just heard that they have already made cars that drive themselves, and are working out the bugs and trying to get permission to market them!

    • You see, I thought I was daydreaming about what might come when I was no longer here… and thanks to the blog, I’m learning that it is already on the way. It’s amazing!

  10. I use Waze all the time, and didn’t realize it was invented in Israel. I have a very bad sense of direction, so Waze has been my new best friend. It is rather amusing as I traverse a mountain pass to get from where I live to go into the San Francisco Bay Area; we lose most cell phone connectivity going over the pass, and poor Waze (a woman’s voice here) gets so confused telling me to turn left or turn right and I’m in the middle of a mountain highway with no turns in view. Once we get over the top, Waze reorients herself….poor dear.
    I love your photos of the Jerusalem area and touring with you.

    • So glad you enjoyed the photos of Jerusalem, Angeline. I had heard that this invention has spread from our corner far and wide. What I hear, is that the more people that use it in any geographical area, the better the information is. But of course, there is always room for error.

  11. Although I have a smart phone, I don’t use most of the features, and only tend to use it to make or receive a phone call, send or receive texts, or sometimes, to check emails. I’ve actually been searching for an old flip phone to replace this phone, but am having a hard time finding one that won’t cost a ridiculous amount up front, as I’m not interested in spending a lot of money in order to simplify.

    Loved the photos, and although I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit it out loud, seeing them helps remind me that Jerusalem is similar to any large metropolis, rather than an ancient land consisting of only stone huts and vast desert expanses. Adjusting my perception is something I’m getting more and more used to these days; I much prefer accuracy over misconception. Even though I know better, sometimes I need a reminder to bring my perception into alignment with reality. Your photos were excellent in helping me to do that, so thank you for sharing them. 🙂

    • I’m so glad, N, that I have the honor of introducing you, with my photos, to modern Israel. Though to tell the truth, I often feel that I was designed to sit in the doorway of my tent and watch the camels frolic in the field… rather to sit in a traffic jam along with hundreds of others, the windows rolled up, the air conditioning working… and the sound track turning the affairs of man into some sort of Hollywood farce. All the same, I’m very lucky. I love my hometown with all my heart, and most of the time, it’s fun too.

  12. Hi Shimon. I’m so happy you got to experience the future as now. Despite your holding back, I will try to encourage you to at least see what is available with smart phones. It is certainly mind boggling and a great learning tool as well as a tool to do so much more. Sky Walk (here in US) is great for astronomy, and there are a LOT of apps for photography. I suspect hers had a camera in as well. Where and if it will end is anybodys guess. Holodeck (as in Star Trek) is now real and quantum computing is right on the edge of reality.
    Welcome to the future. I’m so happy to share it with you!

    • My dear friend, I thank you for the support. It is wonderful to have a taste of the future. But the truth is that as I get older, I get a little slower. And nowadays I find it dismaying that I can’t do as much in a day as I used to do in the past. So that means I have even less time than I did before… less time to experiment with all the innovations that have appeared in our lives in recent years. I didn’t even watch Star Trek in the old days. But now I get to watch the technology as it becomes a real part of our lives. Lots of fun.

  13. Excellent post Shimon. I love my smart phone and sometimes I curse it because I am always on it checking emails, using different apps, etc. Waze is amazing and my husband swears by it when he has to go somewhere.

    • It really doesn’t surprise me, Edith, that you are right on top of all this new technology. I get that impression from your blog… that you’re in your element with the many inventions and new techniques. My children are that way too. They get their mails on the phone, and are constantly connected. And I do enjoy watching others enjoy these advances. Give my regards to your husband. Best wishes to you.

  14. The smart phones here in the US are not always correct. For instance, my smart phone doesn’t even recognize my house so when I return home, it tells me to turn around and continue down the highway. They do make driving easier most of the time.

    • From what I’ve heard, the more people that use this program in any area, the more accurate it is, and the more services it provides. Here in Israel it’s been well integrated into the traffic system, and one can save a lot of time using it. I don’ t think it’ll be long before it becomes as useful in the states as well. Thanks for your comment, Bev.

  15. I have a very basic mobile, I only want to make and receive texts and calls, so don’t ever go for fancy phones.
    Aren’t the sat navs marvelous? I recently sat in a car with one, it didn’t predict traffic jams or police cars but it did a wonderful job….it’s magical, without a doubt…..I saw a programme recently showing a driverless car, a journalist was sitting in it and off it went all on it’s own, I don’t think I could trust such a machine….my nerves would be shredded!
    My father always said that if mankind could think it up it would be invented one day…..even mobile phones and the internet still amaze me…..here I am chatting to a wonderful chap halfway around the world, I never would have believed I would have seen that. My father used to tell me about the crystal set tthey had before radios…..
    Lovely to see the pics of your journey and how you finally caught up with the motorbike!xxx

    • I agree with your father 100%. We have seen such a blossoming of imaginative ideas in the last century, and one thing leads to another; the advances becoming greater all the time. I don’t think that computer navigated cars would make you nervous. They would be much more steady, consistent, and would inspire trust. I believe that riding in one would be a lot like riding in a train.
      …. It’s funny your mentioning the crustal set that your father told you about. I made a crystal set as a boy. They already did have radios at the time, but I wanted my own personal device, and it was a great pleasure for me. It was portable too, at a time when radios were rather big and heavy pieces of furniture. Yes Dina, there seem to be more miracles all the time to amaze us. xxx

  16. Great post, Shimon. I especially enjoyed the photo of the motorcyclist with what looks like a snarling wolf on the back of his jacket.

    My sister had an early talking GPS system in her car. It had a lovely female voice with a British accent. What was interesting was that instead of instructing us to “turn right on Spring Street, she said, “turn right on Spring Saint!” St. being both the abbreviation for street and saint! And I do agree, I still feel like I’m in some science fiction story experiencing some of our amazing devices!

    • Yes, Cathy, I enjoyed that motorcycle jacket too. Especially since my last name is the Hebrew equivalent of wolf… and so I figured he was giving respect to my family. That is funny, the GPS calling a street a saint. I have watched visitors here do a double take after hearing little children speaking the ancient language of Hebrew. I can imagine it would surprise them just as much to hear traffic information supplied in that ancient tongue. Just like yourself, I do feel that I’m in a science fiction story. Thanks for the comment.

  17. In America right now Google is trialling cars that drive themselves – no steering wheel in sight! I find that a really scary idea. Many people have one of these SatNav devices that guide you to a destination – but I hear so many bad reports about them taking you the wrong way down a one-way street. However, I would hate to drive in a strange city without a second pair of eyes next to me. Watching the traffic, watching the signs is too much for one person these days.

    • Hi Andy. I don’t think it would be scary. I have the feeling that those cars will be much more reliable than people. The SatNav was invented here. And in the beginning, there were some mistakes and problems, but now it is very reliable, and people have grown so used to them, they can’t drive without them. But I wouldn’t want a car without a steering wheel for other reasons. I would want one that would drive for me when I was in the city, but when I went out into the country, I would want to drive myself, so I could choose my path as I went along, and slow down to smell the alfalfa… or the roses if I was lucky.

      • I can follow your reasoning very well, Shimon. City driving is where the stress is – one needs eyes in the back of one’s head. Let the car take the strain!

  18. I’ve never been to Jerusalem, Shimon, Thanks for taking me along with you. 🙂

  19. Interesting pictures Shimon! I love my smartphone, it’s got me out of a few scrapes when I’ve needed information at the last minute. I use GPS all the time and find it invaluable in city and rural settings alike. I will give Waze a try but it seems its yet another way for Google to collect vast amounts of information about us all. I think what starts out as being for the good of us all can very quickly be turned around the other way. I think George Orwell was a little early in his predictions but Google is beginning to look like Big Brother to me.

    • I agree with you, Chillbrook, that there is something unnerving about the amount of information that some of the big internet operators collect about us. But I have the feeling that it is a benign influence in the democratic countries, and offers us more good than bad. In any case, I am convinced that it is the way of the future, and that our world will barely be remembered in a couple of generations. We are watching an integration of information and activities. Unfortunately the framework of society is becoming more rigid. People need a diploma or a license for almost any human activity. And this does sadden me. But I don’t think we can avoid it.

  20. It took me a VERY long time to get a smartphone. In fact, I didn’t do so till this last February, and then, only because my old flip phone, which I had had for 7 years, was on its deathbed, metaphorically speaking. It didn’t take much time before I was hooked. Now I use it to check up on my eMail, take loads of photos daily, and – especially – hold voice message chats with my brother in England using WhatsApp. Furthermore, it’s so useful, in the middle of an argument about, say, politics, law, or whatever, to be able to check my facts on the spot using Google.
    Of course all these modern technologies have an upside and a downside. We just have to learn to take advantage of the positive and not surrender to the negative. That isn’t always easy – but I don’t believe in throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

    • I agree with you completely, Shimona. We have to look for the good, and not be intimidated by the negative. In fact, any good tool can be used in a negative way. But it is the intention that counts. And most of the evil in this world is the result of human failure. But I have to admit that though I’ve heard of WhatsApp, I really don’t know anything about it, and I’m kind of slow about adapting to the new innovations. Yet even so, I admire progress. Thank you so much for coming by and for your comment.

  21. I share your dislike for all the apps in the new mobile phones of today. Like you, I only use it to text people when necessary, but hardly ever to phone as I find the house phone cheaper and easier to use and I often forget I’ve got it and when I pick it up again, it has run out of battery. However, I do find the GPS (Waze in your case) useful when travelling abroad as there have been times that we got totally lost in the middle of nowhere and without it it would have taken us ages to find our way. I embrace new technology, but I am very selective with it too.

    • Actually, it’s not really a dislike on my part. I would say that I have so much in this life, that I’m a little shy of the ‘plenty’ to which we are constantly exposed, and doubt that I have the time to play with all the toys that are available. But I try not to make value judgments. Especially, when I don’t understand all the new innovations completely. I do agree with you though, Fatima; if we’re not selective, we’ll find ourselves running after the dog instead of walking together. Thanks so much for your comment.

  22. Thank you so much, Shimon, for sharing your everyday journey and making it an adventure.

    • It is my pleasure to share these every day pleasures of my life, Judy. I am so grateful for what life has given me. And it is great fun having you along for the adventure.

  23. I don’t drive (true!) and have never heard of Waze, sounds like a useful tool to have if you are a driver.

    • Yes, it does seem like a very useful tool. Though I have been driving for years and years, as the population continues to grow, and there are more and more vehicles on the roads, what was once a great pleasure is often a nerve wracking exercise, and I’ve been wondering lately if the pluses make up for the negative sides. When I go downtown these days, I usually use public transportation, and enjoy it more. Thanks for your comment, Mary.

  24. My husband doesn’t get excited about the new tools, he still use the old cell phone. I’m opposite, I love to use these new technology tools and apps.

    • There are some of these new tools that have been valuable to me. But I have to admit that there are many I don’t know at all, because if I don’t really need something, I don’t go looking. And I don’t usually try out a new tool just because it’s available. Thanks for your comment, Amy.

  25. The idea of a self driving machine is a fascinating one dear Shimon. GPRS still has its limitations here, and Google photo mapping hasn’t been successful even in the capital! Incidentally, mine is the default Apple ringtone, only because my husband’s is like yours! 🙂

    • My regards to your husband, Madhu. Though I have to admit, that I’m trying my best to learn how to deal with this modern technology. In our country, so many people are enthusiastic about the system, that it seems to be working better than in most other places. There is a system of feedback that improves the system. Who knows where we’ll get in the end.

  26. I enjoyed this very much. On a recent trip to San Francisco (where I also used Waze in my rental car) I saw the Google self-driven car prototype, so it’s not as far off as you think…

    • I don’t know how long it’ll take, but as the congestion grows, there is more and more need for organization. And I believe that the computer will provide the answer to this problem. Thanks for your comment, Ram.

  27. Kelli’s SUV is equipped with a GPS and she uses the app on her phone. She’s in her late forties, and she enjoys all things electronic since they make her life easier, she says. The age difference struck me one day when I took Charlie to the grocery store. Earlier, he said he was making a list of things to buy. When we got to the store, I was just about to ask where the list was when he whipped out the smart phone and started directing me which aisle to take. He had organized the list according to where the stuff was located in the store! Chuckle… If they didn’t take care of me, I’d have to investigate this technology for myself. Since they do take care of everything for me, I just enjoy the ride! 🙂

    I enjoyed the ride into Jerusalem with you and Chana. Great photos along the way. And I do like the header image very much!

    • It’s amazing, George, the changes we’ve seen in our lifetime. Even if I can’t use all the gadgets around, I’m grateful just to have seen the many advances. Sending you my best wishes always.

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