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by Marianne Beth Tanzer (Aliya Mama) , posted October 19, 2011


[Editor's note: This article by Marianne Tanzer caught my attention because I also have mmories of  being tested to obtain a driver's liscence in Israel. I have an imprint in my mind of tring to manoever an unco ntrolled intersection in what was then the  new industrial area of Talpiyot in Jerusalem.  There were cars from all four directions (north, south, east, west) and there was absolutely no way to know who should proceed first into the intersection and in which order. I remember my driving teacher Avi, yelling at me when we got to that intersection--Go Already! Go!--he expected me to understand by instinct only as to when was appropriate to try and cross it] 


The final chapter of my adventure in getting my driver’s license must be told. I last left off with my failure of Test No. 1, after which I learned that I must wait an entire two weeks before testing again. By this time, I had started to learn the system, so a week after my fateful day of the failed test, I began pestering my instructor to book another appointment for me. It worked, and two weeks later I was at it again.

I wanted to insist that I meet my instructor at the test site, rather than drive in circles prior to the test, as a “warm up.” However, worried I might offend Hal, which was not in my best interest; I agreed to go along with him and wrote off the morning. Lucky for me, my test was mid-day. My co-testers that day included Yehudit and Mark. Yehudit was a Hungarian Bubbie with thick brown hair, large sunglasses with graduated lenses, and a hearty smile. Yehudit made aliyah around the same time as me, and was on her third attempt to secure her license. She bantered with Hal as though they’d had a long history together. Yehudit gave a nervous chuckle as she spoke unabashed about her poor driving abilities. Mark was a recent oleh (immigrant) from Canada, a middle aged single guy also trying to hop through the hoops of Israeli bureaucracy.

There we were, the three of us — all from different backgrounds, national origins, and stages of life – all trying to make our way through the Promised Land, all unsure of exactly what we were doing. When it came time to test, Yehudit drove first. The instructor wished her luck, and she said “Thank You, I need it.”

We pull out of the parking lot and go on an intricate driving course – on and off the highway, up and down narrow streets, through a couple of parking lots with odd layouts. Along the way, Yehudit drives erratically, occasionally slamming on the brakes, narrowly missing a bus, and failing to yield in the roundabout, a mistake which the instructor corrects. I feel for Yehudit. She is such a sweet woman, hoping to get her license so she can drive her grandchildren home from school, yet so nervous behind the wheel. The instructor doesn’t make it easy for her, and I imagine she will be seeing him again. Mark goes next. He is doing just fine. Then, he is instructed to make a left turn. I can’t believe it but he is not in the turn lane. He is about to make the same mistake that failed me! “Get over a lane!” I want to shout. “The pavement markings are confusing, get in the left lane!” I cringe as the instructor explains he is not in turn lane and can’t turn left. Poor guy.

I test last. My test seems so short. I try to forget about everything and drive like I normally would, except a bit more cautiously (truth told, I really am not such a great driver). My test is very short; I think about seven minutes – half as long as the other two. I feel I’ve lucked out with my short test. I am doing great. We are almost back at the test site, and a pedestrian steps into the street when I am about an inch from the crosswalk. What do I do? Why do I forget how to drive? I keep driving. The instructor sighs and clenches his fist. It seems obvious now, but I should have stopped.

The test ends. We three testees anxiously compare notes and surmise our fate, the same way I discussed how I did on a high school exam with my friends immediately after the test. I try to be supportive of Yehudit and Mark, but can’t imagine that they’ve passed. I feel I am in the grey area once again. We drive back towards Raanana. After a few minutes of hypothesizing, Hal interrupts us. “Stop your whining – You’ve all passed!” We all begin to cheer. Yehudit and I high five in the backseat like two teenagers. We did it. We smile and laugh with relief. How overcoming this hurdle has brought us together. Yehudit can drive her grandkids, I can go buy a car, and Mark can move on to the next hoop. Three totally different people, all facing the same struggle. Our paths will probably never cross again, but this moment in time will long be remembered.

Marianne Tanzer's blog can be accessed at
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