Yael Eckstein wrote a touching piece for The Jerusalem Post about a recent encounter she and her children had with a Jerusalem street sweeper -- and the important lesson it taught her.
In this age of technology, we’re connected as we have never been before. And yet, it is ironic how so many people feel utterly alone. Despite our hundreds of friends on Facebook, the lengthy list of contacts in our cellphones, and email accounts filled with messages, we can see tears and the pain of loneliness nearly everywhere we turn.
For years I have been struggling with this paradox of our generation, and this week the answer came to me through an eye-opening experience I had with an Ethiopian-Israeli street cleaner named Yefet in a small city in central Israel.
The day started out like any other. I rushed around the house getting my kids dressed and fed, then quickly ran them to the car in a race against the morning school bell, which rings promptly every morning at 8. As I drove down the street right next to my home, my three-year-old suddenly shouted, “Look, there’s a man cleaning the street!” “You’re right, and we should thank him,” I answered. I continued to drive past the middle-aged man cleaning the street, and with the window closed, I said in a sweet voice for my daughter to hear, “Thank you so much for keeping our streets clean.”
At first, I felt proud of myself for teaching my daughter the important lesson of appreciation. Yet that moment quickly faded. “Mommy, he didn’t even hear you,” my daughter said. I thought about the school bell that would already be ringing at my older kids’ school, and the sad face of the man sweeping the street.
It became crystal clear to me which should take priority. I immediately turned around my car and went back to the street sweeper so that my family could give him a few words of appreciation.
Read the rest of her article to find out how the street sweeper responded to their gratitude.