And Yadda Yadda Yadda ... I Made Aliyah

The magical power of you (yes, you)

Twice a month, on average, I travel to Tel Aviv for work.

And twice a month, on average, after I park my car on Menachem Begin street in Ramat Gan I walk over to Cafe Cafe to order an espresso k’tzar to go.

Today, I walked into Cafe Cafe and before I could order, the waitress hanging out by the bar looked at me and said “Espresso k’tzar?”

Incredulous, I asked her in Hebrew, “You remember? Really?”

She sad, “Of course.”

Now, a skeptic might say, she has a statistically high chance of guessing what I will order at an espresso bar in Israel and nailing it. After all Cafe Cafe is no Starbucks, and there’s no peppermint or pumpkin or other array of holiday coffee drink specials.

However, anyone who knows Israel would know that the waitress’ chances would have been 5x as high if she had said instead of espresso k’tzar:


Since 9.75 times out of 10, Israelis in Tel Aviv order hafooch (a latte).

But she didn’t. She said a short espresso, which is what I always order the two times a month I am in Cafe Cafe in Ramat Gan.

And this little gesture — this “remembering” of little old me — made me stop. Completely stop. I stopped inside a moment I would normally speed through.

Suddenly, I looked at this stranger differently.  I interacted with my coffee differently. This one, seemingly simple interaction changed the way I walked from the  three blocks from the cafe to my destination.

Instead of noticing the sewage smell emanating from open garbage container like I normally do on this walk, I noticed the shimmer of a single bee stopping to buzz in the sunlight above a sidewalk block.

I got closer to a bee than I ever have before. Because, for once, its beauty resonated with me more than its potential danger.

And, for me, this is huge.

Beauty overtook fear.

My interaction with barista was a moment of magic in my day. And considering I had just gotten out of my car after having spent two hours in bad traffic on the highway alone, magic was much-needed.

The magic of you is the minor yet major factor in whether or not my day starts off with wonder and hope or with cynicism and despair.

Of course, I play a part in the magic trick, too. I am the magician’s assistant. I need to be willing to see and believe in the magic in order for it to work.

It helped that I was listening to a series of TED talks on my commute to work this morning. It helped that one of those talks was Shawn Achor’s “The Happy Secret to Better Work.” I was in the right frame of mind to be happy. It helped that one of those talks was Louie Schwartzberg’s “Nature. Beauty. Gratitude.” I was in the right frame of mind to appreciate and be thankful for all that my eyes could see during that three block walk.

Shawn and Louie — strangers on a stage — helped.

Sometimes you are a magician. And I am your assistant.

And sometimes, we switch.

Switch on.

The extraordinary magic in minor moments.

Jen Maidenberg is  a writer, editor, activist and former assistant editor at the Arizona Jewish Post. Visit her website at