Ki Yachol Nuchal!

New olah; mom and wife. In small ways, every day, trying to rectify the error in judgement of my zaydies, the meraglim. "See these big grapes? We can make really big wine!"

A Day in Yerushalayim

Posted by rutimizrachi on 17/08/2008

Yom rishon, 16 Av 5768/17 August 2008, Sunday.

We picked a very hot day to see how people “do summer” in Yerushalayim. If hot, humid Baltimore would adopt some of these hobbies, life in that city might be just a bit more pleasurable, I think. Kids were playing in public fountains all over town — and no one was yelling at them. In fact, there were fathers sitting and learning nearby. Families were enjoying outdoor barbecues in the parks.
We met some friends for lunch in a busy restaurant in the Ben Yehuda shopping mall. Once again, we were reminded of a positive difference in the dining experience in Israel: in the States, there is a sense of being rushed from one’s table for the next customer. In Israel, one dines and shmoozes, and actually needs to accost the waitperson for the check. (Of course, there will always be exceptions. If you can find that sort of restaurant — other than a serve-yourself establishment — on the Eastern Seaboard, please let me know for my next visit.)
We stopped in at our favorite bookstore, M. Pomeranz Bookseller, on Be’eri. The books we had ordered had not yet arrived. But we had a lovely chat with the proprietor and one of his long-time employees. That held us in place long enough for a very old friend to stop in. More chatting, and another reminder that there are no coincidences. Call me biased, but this fact seems even clearer in the Holy Land.

In the Old City, an older man walking with a young man, both in tefillin, reminded us of the preciousness of being in our own Land. Was this a father and son, or a rosh yeshiva with a beloved talmid? It didn’t matter. In the Rova, every kind of Jew can be himself, without feeling out of place. The shawls handed out to some women at the Kotel may have given them food for thought; but every Jew is welcome.
The main theme of the day was that life is about time with people and Hashem. When we Americans are working so many long hours to live the American Dream, it is sometimes impossible to take time for that reality. Israel can afford us the opportunity to enjoy a simpler life, if we don’t try to recreate the USA here. There are no guarantees for an easy life; but I don’t remember tripping over that option in the USA either. But Israel has allowed us to emphasize the things we cherish the most: human interaction, time to be ourselves, an increasingly central relationship with our Creator. I am so grateful that we have this privilege. I pray that Hashem will not take it away from us. I pray that more and more of our dear friends will be able to join us at Home.

5 Responses to “A Day in Yerushalayim”

  1. Rahel said

    About those shawls — I’m sorry to say that they don’t give much food for thought. Quite a few religious women — myself included — find them intrusive and inappropriate, and a huge turn-off to being at the Kotel.

    Also, having lived in the Old City for a year and a half at one point, I can say, unfortunately, that one is not always free there to be the kind of Jew that one would like to be. (Even some long-time religious residents of the Old City will say so, if in hushed tones.) Several years before my stay there, a small synagogue was torched because its congregation was a bit too “different” for some people.

  2. rutimizrachi said

    Rahel: [smiles] Well, I would debate your point that they don’t give food for thought, given that they inspired you to have what to say. 🙂

    There is much to struggle with regarding tzniut. My main issue, in raising only sons, is that I must remind them that they are Torah scrolls. There is no fairness or consistency in a woman covered head to toe, standing next to her husband in a “wife beater,” long shorts and sandals. (I have seen this — I kid you not.) In most cases, I found that I was less offended as I was learning, when the approach was sensitive. But the struggle will probably continue, for each of us in her way, until Moshiach comes.

    I am more saddened by your report of how it is not so easy to be oneself in the Old City. Of course, we will have trouble recognizing the Moshiach in our generation if we cannot learn to love one another…

  3. Rahel said

    Ruti, to my way of thinking — and that of many others — the concept of tzniut, especially for women, is being inappropriately and sometimes tragically overemphasized.

    See you this evening!

  4. rutimizrachi said

    I agree. And the true nature of tzniut — which has much more to do with how one carries herself OR HIMSELF — is being tragically disregarded, due in part to the superficial approach regarding necklines and sleeve length.

    Baruch Hashem, we have what to work on. I think it will be easier here at Home; but we will see.

  5. Sarah said

    OK, small detail, but what I want to know is… where are those water fountains that the kids are playing in?! I want to go there!

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