Sunday, August 22, 2010

Yehoshua - The Bottle Collector of Mitzpe Ramon

Yehoshua is the bottle collector of Mitzpe Ramon. In the Soviet Union he was a mathematician; here he is a bottle recycler. But he hasn't left his old profession completely behind. He is still working on a system to beat the Israeli Lottery.

You can see Yehoshua most days, as he hurries from place to place. He has to be the fastest walker in Mitzpe Ramon. He carries a bottle collecting device of his own fashioning, an aluminum stick with a spiral at the end that snags bottles and cans from the garbage and ground. One of the more unsavory things about Mitzpe Ramon is the amount of garbage, bottles and cans that tourists and residents throw in the street. There are plenty of garbage cans around, but in that respect Israel is still a third world country. It is especially unfortunate in a beautiful natural area like Mitzpe Ramon and its crater. So, it's good to have a bottle collector around who can act as a scavenger for all the rest of the inconsiderate ones.

Not long ago, Yehoshua was mugged by a pair of Black Hebrews wearing ski masks. Bottle collecting, after all, is an all cash business. He ripped their masks off and was later able to identify them to the police. They now sit in jail. The amount of money stolen has gone up and up with each retelling of the tale, but only part of it was recovered, of that we can be sure.

One of the things Herzl longed for in his Zionist dreams was an Israel where Jews could be all things and not confined to their shtetl professions. And that he got in the mathematician who is the bottle collector of Mitzpe Ramon.

The Bottle Collector of Mitzpe Ramon

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