Saturday, November 01, 2008

Update fromthe 'burbs

"I'm going shopping with you when you buy a dress for my wedding. I don't want you wearing any freaky (hippie)dress" insisted my bride-to-be daughter.

"OK" I sighed weakly. I can compromise on that. They will probably close a deal this week on some chic, expensive place out of town, in the middle of nowhere, because all the celebrities are getting married there. And so far, I have not saved a cent for this wedding. It's in God's hands. He certainly knows I at least must have some bucks for that upscale dress she's going to want me to wear.

Nonetheless, I must thank God too that there are no color schemes in Israeli weddings. For this I must be eternally grateful.

The night before I had seen the place with her fiancee's parents. His mother is lovely and so good to my daughter, but she thinks me as rather primitive as I only have one pair of shoes and she has 30. I also have never been to her favorite mall in Ramat Aviv, in Tel Aviv. She was opened mouthed with shock as I told her "I've never been." I kid you not. So we decided that I will go to Ramat Aviv for the very first time to buy a dress for the wedding with my daughter in tow.

But because I can't easily pursue material pursuits, the only alternative for me is to pursue spiritual ones. Last weekend was the Jewish Renewal monthly service on Friday night. I was feeling quite antsy back home in the 'burb of Maaleh Adumim, where there is no close spiritual congregation at all, unless I want to join in with the messianic Jews. So off I went for the weekend leaving Hubby and son behind. I dutifully prepared food for them so they wouldn't starve to death, being that they are so - (what's the politically correct word for "stupid"?) - when it comes to opening up the fridge or making a simple rice dish or turning on the oven to cook a chicken. The service last Friday was, as usual, unusual. People dancing barefoot, acoustic instruments being played with a monk from the Latrun monastery on violin. He sure can play some kick-ass klezmer. The weekly Torah portion read that week was the first one of the season - and the first one in the Old Testament - Bereishit (Genesis), and they invited a soon-to-give-birth woman and her partner who the Rabbi blessed for their new beginning.

The next day, I went to visit a daughter of friends for lunch and my brother later that afternoon, who was mortified that I attended a service with guitars and musical accompaniment on the Sabbath, not really caring that I had felt it so spiritually uplifting and, as a result, closer to God with that kind of service. That's how it is with these "ritualistic" Jews who focus more about the "do's and don'ts" of the religion that the soul aspect. And if that wasn't awful enough for him, I had taken my cellphone along in a pouch, which he didn't know about until he made the Havdalah separation) service that is recited to separate the Sabbath from the rest of the week, on Saturday night after nightfall. In the middle of his reciting the blessing, my cell buzzes. He looks up from his prayer book and glares at me for carrying the prohibited cellphone around with me on the Sabbath.

"You should have told him 'at least I didn't take the car to your house'" Hubby said and laughed as I told him the story.

And last night I hosted 24 people from the Compassionate Listening Group at my home for tea and coffee last night after dinner. I had no idea what I was going to talk about to everyone and thought it rather skimpy that I just prepared drinks and not much in the way of treats, though the group leader said they'd bring along snacks, which they did. As their bus veered noisily into the driveway on the quiet Friday night, I went down to meet the group feeling the eyes of 120 families living in our apartment complex who are able to see the bus from their windows, probably wondering what on earth is this crazy woman up to now.

I accompanied the first group to my apartment, telling them not to use the Sabbath elevator and then saw the confused looks. I explained what a Sabbath elevator is, and had to go lightly into the very complex laws of what people do/don't do on this day.

Having seated everyone and feeling wonderful that I was able to fit 24 people comfortably into my living room with borrowed plastic chairs, I began my story starting with my parents fleeing Austria as Jewish refugees before WWII, having been saved by a gentile neighbor and by my mother's brother, fast forwarding to the conflict I had with my parents over religious observance and how hurt they were when I left it, to joining up with Chabad in Toronto when I began my married life, and leaving it after the Rebbe died, my dalliance with the extremist Kahane crowd and leaving that scene for the truth that I finally seemed to find in compassion and understanding of the Other in this country - culminating in the dialogue group I hold monthly between Palestinians and Israelis in my living room. The entire evening was being filmed for I don't know what and where, but it doesn't matter to me.

This was followed by a question and answer forum and I was able to answer everyone, feeling finally that maybe all this peace work I've been doing for years has seasoned me somewhat. Up until yesterday I've always felt this work I do is just a part of me and that it's important, but nothing "that" special. But the guests yesterday seemed to think otherwise and feel that perhaps I should/can take it to the next level. Having no idea what and how, I'll just leave that, as I do with most things, up to God to show me a way.

No comments: