Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hugging Jerusalem

Monday afternoon thousands of people were expected to gather in a love hug of Jerusalem. It was a touchy-feely thingy and those who like angry, political demonstrations stayed away. Unfortunately, I don't think it was several thousand people who showed up - it seemed like several hundred - but we still evoked stares and curiosity from passers-by.

I walked from work towards Jaffa Gate, the closest part of the old city to my work. On the way I saw two smiling hippies and I asked them where people were for the big hug. The big blonde handsome lug, took my hand and walked with me to Jaffa Gate to look for "other hippies". I stood in front of some ruins - to the right of Jaffa Gate - it looked like a much older part of the city wall in front of the more modern Ottoman-built wall and waited. In time, a big group of people came by to hug the walls of the old city and it seems that they were part of James Twyman's group from the States. It was funny bumping into James Twyman here of all places. He gave me his latest CD of his - God Has No Religion - which sounds like a good conversation piece.

Pretty soon he had his group breathing in and breathing out chanting the one of the names of God (I Am That) over and over again while we all held hands. He prayed with us for the peace of Jerusalem and for a while it seemed as if the prayers were reaching the place they were supposed to reach.

After we all went over to hug the wall. Now it seems that people who hug walls belong in a funny farm - but you know what? It actually felt good. I put my head against the wall and the ancient stones felt warm and wonderful against my face. And then I realized that if you hug the walls of Jerusalem, the walls will hug you back.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

pocketful of miracles

I don't know what happened. I didn't win the lottery or anything but it certainly was a very mysterious and wonderful day on Friday. But when the going gets tough in Israel, miracles happen. Miracles happen to everyone if one keeps their eyes open, but in this country, they seem to come faster and are more noticeable. Otherwise, if these miracles didn't happen, it would be too damn hard to survive.

We ran a garage sale on Friday just to get some money into our hands for food shopping but also to clear up the stuff we don't want to move into our new apartment. Hubby had a bad slump work-wise for a few months, we were all tapped out, and the garage sale came in handy for grocery shopping we sorely needed to do that day. It's unpleasant when there's no food in the house. Some people came by at the beginning of the day and bought stuff but not a whole lot. My daughter and her husband came by and saw we were strapped for cash and just waiting around for customers. I usually have a fridge full of food by Friday morning, but they noticed we just offered them water. (Miracle #1) They returned a couple of hours later with food we needed for Shabbat and refused to accept the money we earned from the sales. Then one of our friends called.

"You want some food? I'm coming by with a pizza."

"Huh? How did he know?" asked Hubby.

"I don't know, really. I think Jesus told him we needed some food. How else on earth would he have sussed it?"

(Miracle #2) He came by with not one but two pizzas and I got off my macrobiotic diet for this gift of lunch.

A couple of hours later my landlord comes in with a huge electric bill we have to pay. Shit. What to do? Thankfully they'll wait until the middle of the week when we may be able to pay them. But yet another miracle happened.

We asked them if we could stay two more weeks so as not to have to stay over too long at my daughter's house until our apartment is ready - probably by June 1st. And could we do this rent-free? This is a really absurd question to ask an Israeli landlord. Of course, the answer would be no - but I had to ask.

Turns out the answer was - yes! (Miracle #3) But I'd have to advertise their house for sale on various internet forums and act as an agent for the two weeks, showing their home, etc. Poor things have been trying to sell the house for 3 years but got no buyers. I told them - it's time to check your mezuzot (the prayer we stick on doorposts) to see if anything is rubbed out. If so, it's a sign that something is incomplete. They gladly entrusted me to the task.

And if they do sell the house, maybe they'll be grateful enough to let us have keep their fridge, which is old but in great condition.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Petra - last bit

Our last day in Petra we actually went out of our hotel (after 2 days just inside) to tour Petra which is up for the updated Seven Wonders of the World - which it should be. We were so knackered at the end of our trip that we took a horse and carriage back - after haggling with the driver of course. My Palestinian roommate haggled better in Arabic but one driver got so mad at her, he said "only the English speakers could get into the carriage" - eventually we got one that let us both on. I managed to even video tape this ride - shaky but you get the picture (pun intended).

On the way back to the hotel after our Petra tour we spoke with some of the young guys.

"You should have been at our room last night. We were smoking nargilas!"

"Thought you people weren't allowed to smoke nargilas in your hotel room - wasn't that one of the rules that A. spoke about at the beginning of the conference?"

He laughed at me. "But it was A.'s nargila we were smoking in his room."


"You must understand the Arab way - you can make the rules and then break the rules."

I see. I guess that's why the Palestinian man and woman, who at the beginning of the conference said they could not have any relationships with "settlers" meaning anyone who lives over the green line, which I do, maintained a warm relationship with me throughout the weekend. Perhaps because they were nonsensical rules anyways, made by politicians who don't know their ass from their elbows.

That evening, after the main conference ended we had a wonderful women's-only conference, where there was a lot of emotion, hugging, tears, laughter and promises. I had promised my Palestinian roommate that we would keep in touch and build up interfaith trust.

I had silently thanked God throughout the weekend that she didn't faint, get sick or die in my room because having an Israeli roommate like myself might have looked mighty suspicious to outsiders, given the bad rap we have with Palestinians.