In first person…Free ride from a stranger sparks fear, then laughter

In 1973, my husband, 6-year-old daughter and I arrived at a blacked-out Lod Airport, scared but ready to volunteer.

The Egyptian army had crossed the Suez Canal and was racing across the Sinai desert. Amid fear and apprehension, life went on.

After a week of air-raid shelters, bad Israeli cooking, rude sabras and confused volunteering, we decided to go and see "The Day of the Jackal."

Our daughter lost our flashlight somewhere in the four blocks between our hotel and the cinema.

After the movie, hospitable Israelis with cars were offering rides to those without. A swarthy lad speaking hesitant Hebrew offered us a lift in a raggedy three-wheel Czech Skoda.

In the quaint little car our silent rescuer drove aimlessly for about 25 minutes.

Finally no longer able to bear the anxiety, I spoke to my husband in English, a language I thought our good Samaritan would not understand.

"Do you realize our hotel was only four city blocks from the movie? He's been driving around for a half hour. I think he's an enemy Arab taking us to the Syrian front. Let's jump out."

A hearty laugh erupted from the driver and in the thickest New York accent I've ever heard, he said, "I'm no enemy Arab. I'm a fifth-generation Brooklyn Jew. I go to Columbia University. I came here three days ago to volunteer. I've no idea where the Syrian front is, or your hotel. I was waiting for you folks to give me directions."