These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

[Alumni Guest Post] Tremping, Tramping, and Hitchhiking

Posted on February 5, 2013 by The Director of Digital Media

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From Daniel Shibley's (Fellows '12) blog:
Lining up at the trempiada in Gilo.

Lining up at the trempiada in Gilo.

Whichever name you ascribe to it, or how you pronounce it, catching a ride with a total stranger remains one of my favorite aspects of living in Israel. Likely born out of a larger sense of family and the practical reality that not every person owns a motor vehicle, accepting a ride with a stranger is part of the traveling culture in this country. Despite the fact that hitchhiking is not governed by any written rules, there are some unspoken understandings by which both drivers and riders adhere, most of the time. Remember, this is Israel, rules are flexible and subject to personal interpretation as the situation dictates. The following are some Do’s and Dont’s as well as humorous moments.


Use the finger. No, not THAT finger!

Instead of the well known thumb, hitchhikers in Israel use one finger out from the body pointing at the road to indicate that they are soliciting drivers for a ride. Sometimes they will indicate a direction in which they are traveling, hoping to find a driver who will oblige.

Stand at a junction outside of a city.

Although you might get lucky, generally tremping within a city is not done. However, at the junctions or main roads exiting a city, there are often areas called trempiadas where people wait for rides.

Get in quickly.

Remember, the driver is doing you a favor. Get your bag, your self, and get in. You do not want to delay your generous driver, especially since you are now riding in their car and are subject to any rebuke they might feel necessary to deliver. The slower you move, the more likely it is that somebody will jump the “line” and get in before you, more on that later.


Be a flip-flopper.

Once you have agreed on a destination or drop off point, it is not appropriate to change. Often you will be accommodated as long as the driver is not going out of the way, but being a flip-flopping will not win you any friends on the open roads.

Jump the line.

Lines are a mere suggestion in Israel. However, if you are in a situation where multiple people are going to the same destination, generally the policy is first come, first in. Some will try and breech this rule and jump in before you, do not let them, move quickly, get in, and then make a face or dismissive hand gesture when you drive away

Smell, Cut your nails, Talk, or make your presence known.

You should be as unintrusive as possible. If you stink, I do not want to ride with you. If you must cut your toe or finger nails, do it at home, or while you wait for the next guy to pick you up, gross. Talk when spoken to, otherwise be quiet. Nobody likes a smelly talkative tremper who decides that it is time for a manicure or pedicure.

I have been soaked and sunburned while waiting for a ride, although not at the same time.I have been in cars where the driver drove so unimaginably slowly that Arabs on donkies were literally passing the car. Of course this was a very hot day with a full back seat and broken air conditioning. I have been in cars where the driver must have been attempting to break all sorts of land speed records, was gripping the door handle hoping that we would arrive in one piece. I have been in cars where the driver asked me why I made aliyah, why I waited so long, why I did not wait long enough, why I am not married, commended me for not being married. I have been in cars where I sat between sleeping infants, on top of laundry, in the trunk, with my parents, next to florescent lights. I have been in a car where the driver was having a sing-along with his friend and almost forgot I was in the back seat. I have driven a tremper who fell asleep. I have received dinner invitations and life advice. I have talked Torah, politics, and economic policy.

Happy tremping to all!