He also loves to hitchhike.
After he and his friends arrived in the Dead Sea vicinity, they wanted to go to another part of it. So they waited by the side of the road for a hospitable driver.
A middle-aged secular man stopped for them. After they piled into his car, he said, "Why are you staying at the Dead Sea? Have you ever been to Eilat?"
(At the southernmost tip of Israel, Eilat is a 3-hour drive from the Dead Sea and not a place either my son or his friends had ever considered visiting. Also, it's not an acceptable destination for chareidi yeshivah boys.)
After the boys said they'd never been to Eilat, the man said, "So why don't you go now? I can take you straight there!"
My son and his friends responded, "Why? What's in Eilat? What do we need to go there for?"
The man, an Eilat resident himself, enthused about the gorgeous beaches and snorkeling available in Eilat.
Then he stopped on the side of the road to take out his smartphone to show them photos of Eilat scenes.
After reassuring them that they needn't worry about guarding their eyes if they got to the beach super early in the morning, the boys were convinced. Yallah! To Eilat!
They passed the 3 hours listening to stories of their benefactor's life in the Israeli navy as a high-ranking officer and trying to argue him out of his heresy. (He didn't even keep Shabbat and didn't see why he should. My son had actually been hoping to run into this type of educated, intelligent, worldly secular Jew on which to test his arguments, and my son was very happy that Hashem gave him exactly what he'd wished for.)
Once in Eilat, the boys helped the man lug all his stuff from the trunk of his car to his apartment, and then the boys were on their way to the beach.
At that point, they were stopped by a frum Yemenite who said, "You guys need Shacharit, right?"
So they ended up in Eilat's Yemenite minyan that morning.
It's a good thing there are always Teimanim around when you need them.
Anyway, they got to the beach and had an amazing time. My son was enchanted by the clear azure waters and the gorgeous sea life underneath with large colorful fish he could reach out and touch, and all the coral.
Then he stepped on a black sea urchin.
Coming out of the water, he found a couple of Eilat natives who reassured him that these sea urchins aren't poisonous and the sting is expelled in 3 days. They even looked it up on their phones and even called the hospital just to make sure and put my son at ease. Then they tossed him and his friends a large bag of kosher snacks, saying that they weren't going to eat the snacks anyway and they'd just go to waste if the boys didn't eat them.
Finally, it was time to leave Eilat and go do a barbecue in the middle of nowhere.
The boys waited at a place for people looking for rides. There, they met an elderly female cab driver, but she was on her way home and looking to take a paying passenger going in her direction. So the boys settled down to eat some cantaloupe and offered her some.
Touched, she praised them as "tzaddikim," but explained that her diabetes doesn't allow her to take them up on their kind offer.
Eventually, they found a ride, got dropped off in the middle of nowhere and barbecued to their hearts' content, napped, then started out on the journey back home.
At one point, they found themselves in the part of the Negev which has a particularly clear sky without electric lights to ruin the gloriously starry view.
My son had never seen anything like it and just gazed up in a happy state of "Wow!"
And then he arrived home, at which point I inundated him with propolis, echinacea, vitamin C, and a clove of garlic. (I'm pretty sure that sea urchins are germy.)
But he came down with the snuffles anyway.
Also, regular Jews do tend to get along despite superficial differences. If they can disconnect from the media-hype and agenda-driven leaders (whether "religious" or political), there's a lot of natural friendliness that pours forth.
My son and his friends were treated well by Jews who look and live differently than yeshivah bochurs (i.e. no one treated them like "parasites"). And my son and his friends didn't treat anyone like a "pritzah" or a "shaigetz," nor did they think of them that way. Even the religious debate in the car was welcome and enjoyed by both sides.
At heart, we're all family and Eretz Yisrael is our home.