Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Green-Light Grandpas

Chananel Shapira

You can spot them at busy intersections around Israel, a growing trend of zeidies making sure kids stay safe running to make the school bell

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

 Mishpacha image

RED LIGHT! Road-safety awareness and proper adult role models are the best insurance for keeping kids safe navigating busy streets, “because a guard with a stick is not enough when a child doesn’t understand the significance or the basic rules. And the best way to teach them is by personal example” (Photos: Yaakov Lederman)

I t’s 8:15 in the morning at the busy intersection of Nesivos Hamishpat and Ketzos Hachoshen Streets in Modiin Illit (Kiryat Sefer) near the city’s largest cheder.

Right now Reb Dovid Segal is king of the intersection, nudging a child here, rebuking a driver there, and most importantly, moving the pedestrians along and making sure they don’t generate a traffic jam — not on the sidewalk and not on the street.

Now he gently knocks his sign on the head of a small child standing and chatting with his friends. “I’ll help you cross the street while you talk, okay?” The children around him giggle.

“Not nice,” Segal chides them, knocking his sign on the boy’s head again. “He just got it over the head, how can you laugh at him?”

Reb Dovid keeps the young crowd moving, and gives another head tap, this time to a seven-year-old who seems afraid to cross. “Come on, let’s cross the street,” he coaxes. “What are you waiting for? Oh, I know, you’re waiting for Chanukah.” More giggles, but at least the crosswalk flow is smooth.

Segal tries to keep all sides in the morning rush calm and in good spirits, but later, after the children are safely in their classrooms, he explains that the subject is no laughing matter. “Believe me, I tremble with fear while I stand there every morning between the cars,” he admits. “I see things that the parents of these children don’t dream happen out here: I see how some children simply don’t know how to cross the street. I’ve seen accidents in front of my eyes. These kids must have angels watching them from Above.”

Well, one of those angels is Dovid Segal himself, and he’s not alone. He’s one of a growing trend of retired men — zeidies who are already marrying off their grandchildren — who spend their mornings and afternoons as volunteer crossing guards, making sure kids in Israeli cities stay safe while running to make the school bell, as anxious motorists press on the horns in their own morning rush.

While it’s been decades since Reb Dovid Segal walked his own children to school, today he’ll never miss a morning at his post.


“It all began when my wife passed away six and a half years ago,” he says. “I lived in Zichron Yaakov at the time. After we got up from shivah, I began to come to my daughter in Modiin Illit for Shabbos. I didn’t always go back on Motzaei Shabbos, and when I would walk out of shul after Shacharis on Sunday morning and see the kids running into the street without looking in any direction, some barely out of diapers walking with their older siblings, I almost got a heart attack from it. It was clear that a tragedy was only a matter of time. After this happened a few times, I said to myself, instead of complaining and grumbling, just do something. So I decided to stand at the intersection and direct traffic.”

On his very first day, Segal found himself in the middle of a frightening scene. “I was holding the hands of four children and I was about to cross them over at the crosswalk. Although I saw a car approaching from the right, I was sure the driver saw us. Only when the car came much closer did I see that the driver was looking into his rearview mirror, apparently at his children in the back seat. With one hand, he held his cell phone. And then he looked straight, saw us, and panicked. It was clear he hadn’t noticed us before. Brakes screeching, he was able to stop the car in the middle of the crosswalk, and it was a miracle we were able to jump back to the curb in time.” (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 675)

Related Stories

Always My Malky

Yisroel Besser

A sparkling child growing up in Boro Park. But then difficulty in school. Shattered self-esteem. Reh...

All My Daughters

Barbara Bensoussan

Rabbi Avraham Kelman z”l’s greatest achievement: the founding of a yeshivah back in the 1950s agains...

Moon Chasers

Ben Wymore

Ben Wymore and his family are no strangers to extended travel. This year’s goal was more modest than...

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

No Misunderstandings
Rabbi Moshe Grylak Hashem revealed the secret of a balanced life
What Was the Court’s Rush?
Yonoson Rosenblum The Democratic Party’s descent into madness
Survey? Oy Vey
Eytan Kobre How could YAFFED promote such a farce?
Filling the Void
Rabbi Henoch Plotnik Jewish leaders don’t need to be declared or coronated
Top 5 Ways We Remember Our Rebbeim (and we love them for it!)
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin An ode to these pivotal people in my life
Hanging On in Newark
Rabbi Nosson Scherman Rabbi Nosson Scherman remembers the shul of his youth
A Fine Kettle of Fish
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman The “minor” chasadim are often the most meaningful
The Next Hill
Jacob L. Freedman The look on Malachi’s face nearly broke my heart
Tradition and Modern Meet in One Long Dance
Riki Goldstein Fusing tradition and modernity comes naturally to him
A Playlist for Shabbos
Riki Goldstein What does Moshy Kraus sing at the Shabbos table?
With Flying Colors
Riki Goldstein My 15 seconds of fame on the Carnegie Hall stage
Full Faith
Faigy Peritzman With emunah, everyone’s obligation is the same
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Silence isn’t always golden
The Only One
With Rav Moshe Wolfson, written by Baila Vorhand Within every Jew is the flame of instinctive emunah