Word of the Day / Monit Sherut

Israel's minibus taxi service has a culture all of its own.

Literally meaning “service taxi,” a monit sherut (pron. moh-NEET shay-ROOT) is a jitney, van or small minibus that travels within or between cities on a set route but
not necessarily at set times. A single minibus can also be called a “sherut,” but don’t try to pluralize that word to refer to multiple minibuses, because then you’d get “sherutim” (shay-roo-TEEM), which means “bathroom” as well as “services.” Instead, these shared taxis are referred to in the plural as “moniyot sherut.”

In some cities they provide the sole means of mass public transit on Saturdays, when no buses or trains run until nightfall because of Shabbat. The fare structure is more like that of a bus than a regular taxi, which is sometimes called a “monit special,” pronounced “SPE-shel” (possibly because of that oh-so-special price the driver plans to charge after he tells you his meter doesn’t work), but it has a payment culture all its own.

Unlike on a bus, the passengers usually sit down first, and then pay their fare by passing the money forward from hand to hand until it reaches the driver; change gets passed back the same way. It might sound chaotic and germ-filled, but it usually works pretty well. Pro tip: If you don’t want to be the one putting the (money passing) service in “service taxi,” don’t sit in the front seat.

Emil Salman