Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Send me to the Moon

Amoun, my Gypsy friend, picked me up in her car, an old BMW, but a BMW nevertheless. She was complaining - "People look at my car and think we don't need any money. It's only worth $5,000 now. It's nothing. I think everyone would be happier if we were just riding on camels or donkeys." She always puts me in stitches that woman. We could not find a parking space in her lot so she blocked someone and just handed the keys to the parking lot attendant. It was almost like a second home for me along the via Dolorosa where she lives. I saw Sheikh Bukhari dressed in Western clothing for a change, with a pelephone tucked into his pants. Everyone was running home to break the fast of Ramadan. I heard the voice from the mosque saying "Allahu Akbar" 3 times as we were running up the alley to her house, and then a loud cannon-like noise marked the end of the fast. A second later we were at her home where the men in her family had already lunged for the food in another room and the women, her sisters and sisters-in-law had prepared food for us -loads of stuff I've never seen before. Technina with roast potatoes, a spinach dip for the rice, techina with some spice in it, home-made humous, ful (fava beans) with chickpeas, majadra, kebabs, stuffed grape leaves - a feast indeed. In walks her new friend, an African-American whom I had met at Ibrahim's house a few weeks ago with 2 people from Taiwan. The man was wearing a tie. Why? Other than lawyers, no one wears ties here. Bobby is a Unification Church member and so were these other two. They seem to have made Jerusalem their base these days. But Moonies should have travel guidelines to the Holy Land that say - wear no ties, it scares the natives. Bobby is only 25 years old with a maturity beyond his years. I grilled him about Moon.

We all sat around after dinner watching Candid Camera in Arabic. We laughed as we watched something like looked like an Arabic version of the Jerry Springer show. Bobby asked for soup, tea, and desert and I saw a familiarity there - the food obsession. "Are you sure you are not Jewish" I asked him.

While walking down the side street onto the Via Dolorosa, 2 teenagers tried to engage us in conversation. They kept on saying "hello" to us in English trying to get our attention. They asked us where we were all from. When Bobby said he was from the US - I heard something I never thought I'd hear from a Palestinian young woman. "I love America." "Excuse me", I had to hear this again. I did. "I love America. I want to visit and learn Karate there. I love Sylvester Stallone." Her friend piped in "I love Van Damme". Hmmmm - so action flicks are popular here. I tried out a few sentences and phrases in Arabic and they clung to each other excitedly "SHE SPEAKS ARABIC! SHE SPEAKS ARABIC!" Rare for a Westerner I guess. But I certainly loved the reaction it sparked. I can't wait for my second class!

My moonie friends drove me home in their rented car because Bobby offered to and because I figured oh what the hell - it's on Rev. Moon's account and he certainly could afford it. These people were staying at 5 star hotels! So getting down to the nitty gritty as we were talking and walking, they look up to the Rev. as Jews looked to Moses when they received the Torah at Mt. Sinai. They believe he has the message direct from God. They want everyone to break down the barriers of their religions, and if everyone believed in the same thing (i.e. that Rev Moon is the Messiah) then there would be peace in this world. But that's really far fetched for me. I asked this guy - why can't people be different, believe in different things, and be respected for them. Sure it's harder but so what. I watched the Old City by the Lion's Gate come alive with vendors and people and the entire mood was festive. "Why should they give up Ramadan? Why should I have to give up my beliefs, Passover and Sukkot? Why can't we just stay different but with respect for one another?" I felt his long-term aims or the church's long term aims were as futile as the beliefs of the guy from my interfaith group who tries in vain for us to learn - Esperanto - believing that a single, universal language will bring peace to the world. I did find one thing where the Moonie's message was similar to the Jewish message I heard from the late and great Lubavitcher Rebbe - Moon told his followers that they are all messiahs. The Rebbe had told us that we have to live each day as if the messiah is already here - this in order to bring about the redemption. After listening to the news today and fearing the worst in the Jew vs Jew battle regarding disengagement from Gaza - a redemption is surely what we can use.


Anonymous said...

Will you be writing a book of all your adventures? Seems every week you write something unexpected here.

I am curious....when you moved there did you take anything much aside from personal items...isn't it very very expensive to buy furniture, bedding, etc. there? Hubby and I were pondering all that today. Those jobs you know....wondering what all might be a wise way to plan ahead.


jerusalemgypsy said...

Hi Elizabeth,

We only came to Israel with $2,000. It's nothing. We bought everything here. But there are so many second hand appliances that we buy - as we did our 29" tv for $250 (much cheaper than new) - from people upgrading or leaving the country. Bedding get there. There is IKEA in Netanya, if you like their style. Furniture - get in Israel. Stuff from the US may not fit into small apartments.

Good luck on job hunting. Tel Aviv is probably the better bet. Beersheva to me sounds terribly boring. Maybe it isn't but I haven't seen anything exciting in it, except that it's near the desert and the bedouin and that is the only thing going for it. It's hard to live here. Most people just live on faith - not money. There's not much of that here.

Anonymous said...

Oh thanks Leah! We have heard how hard it is there to make ends meet. It is not easy here but I think far worse there. Our rulers prefer we be serfs! We would be coming on our govt of course, if it happens, as it is a job under the Corps where hubby currently is working. He thinks they are going to be building housing for either the military there or else maybe resettlements...not sure.

We are not people who need to be entertained...I have never been bored in my life...and will not live long enough to finish all the projects I currently have on hand, I am afraid. Plus we both love to study and do research via internet, books, the scriptures, etc. We also like to have folks in to eat...but I will have to go get some training in how to cook more kosher I am afraid. Still learning about some of that. We no longer eat pork or shellfish. And being I cannot eat virtually any milk products...just butter and a bit of parmesan cheese at times...rarely do I serve those things...but still...I am very ignorant and would not want to offend anyone who was brave enough to come eat at our table! And we do not mind being kind of hermits... but his thinking, with him having diabetes, is that the medical facilities in Beer Sheba are good. Is that your opinion? His diabetes is not bad compared to others but still need to gain more control of it too. He would feel more comfortable near good doctors.

But we will see....still do not know what he may decide to do. The election may make some decisions for us quickly. Actually we are basically a one party system...but most still think there are 2! 2 with the same basic goals is our view. And the bottom line is that I think HaShem is calling my husband to go do whatever he can to be of help and since we are not independantly wealthy...live very simply...we would have to come under a US govt job there. (We think that doing as the apostle Paul did...being a "tentmaker" per se is how we fit too. We believe in working and paying our own way). I have learned it is best to not interfere with whatever HaShem is doing in hubby's life... of course, almost everyone in our family thinks we are insane. But that is ok...many people who have done good things on this earth were looked at as being crazy....right? But timing is everything and we must be absolutely sure of that. I feel confident God will show us that in time.

I value your observations and insights as to life there.