03 July 2012


In the weeks before we began traveling, I began to see certain details through American eyes.
You see that hareidi man, in a black suit, white shirt, and black fedora, walking down the street with an open book, alternately singing aloud from it in Hebrew and mumbling in Aramaic? That apparition is my husband. He is trying to finish reading the weekly Torah portion, with commentary and Aramaic translation, before we get to our friends' house for the Shabbos meal. And this does not usually strike me as that unusual... until I am about to travel to America, when I remember: people don't read aloud while walking down the street in America, do they?

Since landing, I have remembered that in America, I have to ask people how are you. It is not because I expect an answer - they seldom provide one - it is to make them feel loved.
In Israel, this show of affection is unnecessary: you know I love you, and I show it by not taking your time to ask how are you, when you probably have better things to do than answer; instead, we exchange blessings  (-"Good morning!" -"Good morning to the entire world!") - and attend to the matter at hand.

There is an improv artist who makes it her practice to walk around New York City distributing roses to strangers.
My friend and I tried to figure out why we both feel intuitively that this idea, which is lovely for New York, would not fly in Jerusalem.
I think it is because in Jerusalem, you can't just drop a rose into someone's life and skip away. In New York your connection with passing strangers is superficial enough that a rose is a lovely surprise. In Jerusalem a rose is cute, but it pales in comparison with the rest of your relationship, whether or not you have ever met before.

No comments:

Post a Comment