Saturday, December 04, 2010

Festival of Light and Fire

Thursday seemed just like any other day, albeit more festive. I managed to get off work early to go to a distant relative's bar mitzvah and to prepare for my interfaith Chanukah party and my boss was sympathetic (a Chanukah miracle?).  Probably because I looked like shit. I couldn't shake this cold I had for a few days, and combined with the fact that it was Chanukah and everyone was in a festive mood, she had no problem telling me I could leave early, as if it were even a question.  We hadn't heard yet about the fire that had begun that morning in the Carmel area. 

I left for the bar mitzvah, agitated at signs on the tables that said "bishul yehudi bilvad" (Jewish cooking only) - implying that no Arab person (or non-Jew) had tainted their food with their 'impure' hands, and then proceeded to drown my sorrow with a few vodka and grapefruit drinks.

I waited 1/2 hour for the Chanukah donuts at Marzipan bakery to arrive.  They were the cheapest and best in Jerusalem and I was ordering 20 of them for tonight's meeting.

I get home late and people had already arrived from the Evangelical Lutheran Church.  Hubby had already put one of the young girls to work grating potatoes for latkes.  I guess I wouldn't be able to put up those "Jewish cooking only" signs on my kitchen table.  I laughed at the thought and then realized that I like the energy when you share the cooking with other people.  Hubby's friend Abed ended up frying the latkes and this became a truly multi-cultural culinary thing going on in my home.  Those latkes were the best tasting latkes ever.

My son was supposed to be working that night and came home in the middle of our meeting. 

"Did you hear what happened at the Carmel?" - he seemed excited and I didn't want to hear any of his long stories.  He said his boss had gone there to help out, which is why he came home early.

"Shhhh.  Not now.  Tell me later." as presentations of Chanukah, Eid el Adha and Christmas were being shared.

Later that evening, after the guests left, we suddenly realized what had been going on.  I had hiked in the Carmel region about 3 years ago - gorgeous countryside, which was now ablaze and there seemed to be no end in sight.  We were totally unequipped for such a disaster.  I read in Friday's paper that a flight instructor saw a small fire at 11:15 and he called it in, but that firefighting planes didn't show up until 1:45 pm.  What the fuck were they doing until then?  Having one of their super long coffee breaks?

After lighting candles on Friday, my daughter was telling me how angry God must be at us. 

"Of course he's angry at us.  Look at the way we treat people.  Like that stupid chief rabbi in Safed telling Jews not to rent out their apartments to Arabs.  Many who rent there are Druze who serve in the army. And then those young people there beat up Arabs who live there.   It's horrible.  HORRIBLE."

I heard her "tsk" me.  She obviously disagreed with my theory.

Watching the news that night my family was surprised and thrilled to hear that Turkey was one of the countries that had come to our aid. 

"Yay!  We can finally go back to visiting Turkey again" - noting that much Israeli tourism to Turkey had stopped since the Gaza flotilla incident.

We had planned a trip to Haifa next week and were thankful it hadn't been this week.

I get an email this morning that makes me smile. A group of Arabs and Jews are already planning to plant trees and shrubs in that area, so we can once again enjoy the beauty of the Carmel - together.

No comments: