I had a bathroom epiphany the other day. It was one of those moments when a bathroom is needed, you’re out in public, and have already availed yourself of coffee and other treats at your favorite cafe. In fact, you’re far away from said coffee shop, otherwise it might make the most sense to just head back in there. There’s also no Aroma in sight — Aroma is to public bathrooms in Israel as McDonald’s is in most other places in the world — and you gotta go, bad.And there, in front of me, was one of the first public, self-cleaning bathrooms that I’d heard tale of in Jerusalem. This one was situated outside the Museum of Italian Jewish Art on Hillel Street in downtown Jerusalem. The oval-shaped structure is quite handsome in design, faced in stone, of course, and pretty easy to use in practice. Just press the button, open the door and the public potty is available for your use, fresh-smelling and clean, really clean. It’s also wheelchair accessible (and fits a side-by-side double stroller) and even has soap in the dispenser and toilet paper on the roll. Can’t always find that in an Aroma restroom.
I’d like to say it was reminiscent of the public restrooms of yore, in which a restroom attendant sat outside, collecting shekels in return for two squares of scratchy toilet paper and a fairly regularly-cleaned restroom. But it’s really much, much better than that. It’s clean, sleek and high-tech, and very, very private. Word has it that there are others in downtown Jerusalem; and if Jerusalem has public, self-cleaning bathrooms, then Tel Aviv must’ve been there first!