Jews in Israel live in the midst of their mishpacha -- their family. We are an unruly, bickering, sometimes dysfunctional family, but we are one family nonetheless. And that family in action shines from these true vignettes.

Only in Israel:

On the minor holiday of Lag B'Omer, almost 10% of the population of Israel flocks to the tomb of the Talmudic sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai on Mt. Meron in the north. A few years ago, my friend Uriela Sagiv joined the pilgrimage. Around 9:30 p.m. she caught a public bus for the 3-4 hour trip home to Jerusalem. Confident that the last stop would be Jerusalem's Central Bus Station, from where she would catch a cab to her home, Uriela fell soundly asleep.

Hours later, she was awoken by a voice, "This is the last stop." She looked up. It was not the Central Bus Station, but rather a totally unfamiliar Jerusalem neighborhood.

"Where is the Central Bus Station?" she asked in bewilderment.

"Oh, that was three stop ago," the driver of the now empty bus answered. "The bus is on its way to the yard -- this is the last stop."

As the area seemed to be residential, Uriela asked the bus driver if he could leave her off on a main street where she could catch a cab.

"You can't catch a cab anywhere around here, lady, not at this time of night," was his answer.

"What will I do?" she asked in rising dismay.

"Where do you live?"

"The Old City."

"Okay, I'll take you home."

And the bus driver turned the empty bus around and drove his single passenger another 20 minutes to the Old City.

Only in Israel:

One morning shortly after the terrorist attack at Mercaz HaRav, in which eight yeshivah students were murdered, a city bus was plying its route on the street past the yeshiva. The bus pulled up to the bus stop in front of the yeshiva, and the driver put on the brake, stood up, and turned to the bus full of passengers on their way to work. He told them that his nephew was one of the murdered boys, and he asked if he might speak for a few minutes about the boy. All of the passengers nodded in assent. The driver proceeded to speak about the sterling qualities of his nephew, as the tears streamed down the passengers' cheeks. Then a woman sitting near the front of the bus stood up, turned around, and said that one of the slain boys had been her neighbors' son. She asked if she might speak about him. Again, all the passengers assented. She spoke about this fine and gentle young man. When she was finished, the bus continued on its route.

Only in Israel:

A rabbi and his family visiting Israel from America took a taxi to the Har Menuchot cemetery to visit the grave of a long-deceased grandparent. When they arrived at the cemetery, they were confounded both by its size and the lack of any official to guide them to the grave. The taxi driver parked and locked his cab, and spent hours helping them search for the grave.

Only in Israel:

Lia Rostenne was shopping in the Machane Yehudah farmers' market. She bought a couple dozen eggs, but when she went to pay the vendor, she realized she had run out of money. "Don't worry," the vendor said to Lia, who was a complete stranger. "Next time you come, you'll pay me."

Once Lia brought a check to a money changer, but in writing it, she made a mistake that rendered the check invalid. The money changer gave her the cash she needed -- thousands of shekels -- and told her to bring a good check the next day. All he took as "collateral" was her phone number.

Similar incidents have happened to me numerous times, where vendors who did not know me said to take the merchandize and pay them later. Every Israeli no doubt has many such stories.

Only in Israel:

Making aliyah, or becoming a citizen of Israel, is the right of every Jew. Nevertheless, it can be a bureaucratic nightmare that takes many weeks of waiting in myriad lines and filling out reams of paper. One Wednesday years ago, my friend Susie Frel, who had been living in Israel on a tourist visa, got the dread diagnosis of stage 3 ovarian cancer. The doctors told her that she had to begin chemotherapy immediately, but Susie had no health insurance. In those days, every new oleh [immigrant] got six months of free health insurance. On Thursday Susie went to the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and applied to make aliyah, explaining to them her plight. By Monday, the day she was supposed to start chemotherapy, she was a full-fledged Israeli citizen.

Only in Israel:

A couple fell onto hard times and was compelled to sell their apartment. They received $10,000 in American one-hundred dollar bills as a deposit on the sale. On the way home, they stopped to buy bread at Angel's Bakery. The wife was holding the $10,000 in a brown paper bag on her lap. When she got out of the car into the rainy night, she must have dropped it. Only when they reached home did they realize that the money was gone.

A customer of the bakery found a brown bag containing a large amount of American dollars on the sidewalk. He went to his rabbi and asked how he could perform the mitzvah of returning a lost object to its owner. How would he ever be able to find the owner? The rabbi advised him to call one of Israel's religious radio stations and have them make an announcement, without, of course, divulging the identifying signs (the amount of money, the currency, the denomination, etc.).

Meanwhile, the horrified husband went to his rabbi to seek advice. It was well after midnight when he gained entrance to the rabbi's presence. As soon as he related that he had lost $10,000, the rabbi's assistant spoke up, "I just heard on the radio that someone found a large sum of money near Angel's." They called the radio station and made the connection.

But that's not the end of the story. The finder of the $10,000 was so overjoyed to be able to perform the mitzvah of returning a lost object that he woke up his children to accompany him to the late-night rendezvous with the owner, so they could witness the joy with which a Jew does a mitzvah.

Only in Israel:

Moshe Solomon, from the settlement of Yitzhar, purchased a used Mitsubishi for 80,000 shekels [$20,000]. A week later he noticed that the serial number was faked. It was actually a stolen car.

As reported by Arutz 7, Moshe drove to the local police station in Ariel to turn in the car, but the policemen were loath to deal with it. He then turned to police stations in other towns in an attempt to trace the vehicle's rightful owners, but in vain.

"I saw that the case was getting nowhere," Moshe said, "so I decided to see it through on my own. After great efforts, I succeeded in tracking down the insurance salesman who sold the insurance policy for the car. Finally he contacted the owner who came to retrieve his car."

When the reporter for Arutz 7 asked him how he would retrieve the money that he paid for the car, Moshe responded, "I don't know if we will. At this point, we are out the 80,000 shekels, but we have gone to court [against a car-testing institute] in an attempt to recoup our loss. Despite the fact that we were advised by some people who are supposedly in the know -- although I'm not sure what it is that they know -- to just keep the car until someone catches us, which may never be, this is not how we were educated. I felt that this was the moment of truth for me. It's not enough to talk in cliches about how to act. This was our true test, and this is what we had to do, so we did it."

The importer of Mitsubishi cars in Israel was so impressed by Moshe Solomon's honesty that he made him a gift of a new car.

Only in Israel:

One early evening during the first Gulf War, Ruth was on a packed bus making its way from central Jerusalem to the residential neighborhood of Har Nof. As the bus neared Har Nof, the siren went off warning of a Scud attack. Egged [Israel's national bus company] drivers had orders to park by the side of the road when the siren sounded, and all the passengers were to put on their gas masks.

The bus was filled with people returning home from work. Worried about their children, they did not want to wait in a bus by the side of the road. They yearned to be home with their families during the attack. A few passengers begged the driver to continue on his route.

The driver got up and made an announcement. "I am not allowed to drive the route and stop at the bus stops during a siren alert. However, I will ask every passenger to give me your address, and I will take you to your door." And that is exactly what he did!

Only in Israel:

Aura Wolfe, a young widow living in Jerusalem, was suffering from the flu. A friend visiting from the States needed to go somewhere, so Aura called the taxi driver she normally used. When the driver came to Aura's door, he noticed that she looked sick. He ordered Aura to sit down in her kitchen. Then, asking for the whereabouts of this ingredient and that, the driver proceeded to prepare for Aura a home remedy he had learned from his mother.