Ever see a 14,000 pound truck tow an 18,000 pound, upside-down school bus through the streets of Durham, North Carolina? Neither had most of the people we passed, and neither had Teddy, the tow-truck driver. For the entire hour – usually half-an-hour – trip from Beth Meyer Synagogue in Raleigh to the Community Midrasha of Durham/Chapel Hill, as his truck strained to lug its cargo over hills and to stop its cargo before red lights, Teddy couldn’t stop laughing. “I’ve towed a lot of weird vehicles, but this is by far the strangest one!”
After our successful weekend in Raleigh, we had been forced to tow our bus yet again in order to make our Sunday-evening gig in Durham. And make it we did. We had lot of fun with the middle- and high-school teens of the Community Midrasha on Sunday night, and had an amazing time hanging out with the wonderful students of the Lerner day school. Conveniently, the two buildings are on the same property, so we didn’t even have to move the bus in order to run both programs! We’re still sitting in the Lerner Day School parking lot, while Jonathan works to rebuild the engine and the rest of us try to find some way to be useful. Elizabeth and Jonah are organizing our gear, Diane and Joanna are out buying engine parts and paint, and, well, I’m here writing and trying not to get in the way.
It really has been an incredible weekend. Just a few days ago we were sitting on the grass along the side of I-95 as smoke drifted out the front of our bus, hoping to get to our homestays before Shabbat and wondering whether or not we’d have to cancel all of our North Carolina programs while the bus was under repair. But it is Adar (if only Adar I) and if there’s one message we can take away from the Purim story we’ll be reading in Adar II, it comes from the line “VeNahafoch Hu,” – and it was flipped around. Haman’s edict was overturned and so were our own fears about the future of the tour. We’ve just come out of our first three programs and each was a huge success. It’s been a blessing that the Lerner Day School has allowed us to sit in their parking lot for a couple of days while Jonathan works on the engine, and it’s given us more time to hang out with the students while they’re at recess. The students have even gotten a chance to see a school bus engine get taken apart and put back together – something we’d never be able to provide during a regular program!
And while our bus has been broken down, we’ve been living it up with our hosts at their beautiful home. Let me tell you, we’ve built ourselves an impressive little home on our bus, but it’s just not the same as sleeping on real beds, eating home-cooked meals, and relaxing in hot tub after a hard day’s work.
The hospitality of the local communities has been a running theme and an indispensable resource for us. We’ve been given beds, meals, rides, bathrooms, showers, pools, cars, and plenty of moral support. And so here’s the ribbon that will tie this whole story into a nice neat knot: just as the Jews of Persia came together to flip Haman’s evil plan on it’s head, so did the Jews of North Carolina come together to flip a topsy-turvy bus tour back onto the right course. Pretty sweet, right?