23 – A most Amazing Day and Getting to know you

http://unitycoalitionforisrael.org/uci_2014/?p=14366  few of you will remember this happening, but it’s important history, and sheds light on today’s situation

 

Amazing day:  “How did this happen?”

The Morning:

Volunteering at the Retirement home has opened doors to friendships I embrace, and stories of lives I’ve dreamed of hearing first-hand throughout my adult life. I look forward to the visits.  One day a “chance” meeting with one of the resident’s in the elevator led to an extended visit over coffee and sweets, and then an invitation to the woman’s birthday party later that week.

I sought out the location before the party, since spellings and spaghetti-like streets sometimes leave me tangled and late. The building was where it “should” be according to my Google mapping, but there’s almost always a challenge.  This time it was reading the building directory for something that sounded like a birthday-party-kind-of-place buried amidst countless law offices filling 8 floors.  Usually I can find one or two words that offer clues; there are still so many, so very many words I don’t know, but I’ve learned to take my time, breathe deeply, and “read” letter by letter.  My concentration was broken by a helpful attorney-looking man.  Although he had no patience for my fumbling Hebrew, he directed me to the 8th floor.

On the day the party, I found myself in a simple, multipurpose meeting room with around 30 people – a few children and young adults, a few more of us in the middle, and the Survivors, 75 years and older.  For 2 hours, an amazed-me talked with men and women from Poland, Hungary, Tunisia, and Germany.   I’d introduce myself and ask about them, careful about phrasing questions to those whose stories I didn’t dare ask.  The comradery was tangible, and graciously extended to me as guest/newcomer.WP_20150729_001

The monthly celebration of birthdays honored my new friend Shulamite and another woman with bouquets, opportunity to speak briefly about their lives and families, photos, and introduction of attending friends and family.  Several young soldiers had come along with a young relative of Shulamite’s, also in uniform; all were honored by the elders for their service.  I can’t yet understand well enough to catch more than random words of the honorees’ brief speeches L and I know better than to trust what my fertile imagination pastes together.

I already look forward to returning after my trip to the U.S., to see how I can help.  They invited me.

 

The evening:

Got Troubles?  Put it in perspective!! Checkout this amazing story about … I don’t want to blow the surprise… http://www.aish.com/sp/so/Who-Got-the-Better-Deal.html?s=mm

The above article left me curious to learn more about the author, and that led to an enchanting evening in her home. Years ago she wrote a musical about Israel, brilliantly performed these days by her husband and son in the living room of their 900 year home in Jerusalem’s Old City.  I put out the word to friends I thought might be interested but ultimately took the adventure on my own, so will do my brief-best to bring you along, even though after-the-fact. WP_20150729_010

25 ticket buyers found themselves in a livingroom crowded with piano, 4-seater couch, 21 folding chairs, and little breathing room.  I thought of claustrophobic-y friends, and my dear mother, who couldn’t have endured the tight fit and would have missed an amazing experience.

Our hostess told the known history and shared pictures of her home, once a Muslim hospital, later a Jewish hospital, pharmacy. At some point the building, which currently boasts 7 separate family apartment homes, was home to about 20 families – each entire family living in one room and sharing the entrance patio as communal kitchen for cooking.  Imagine women sharing a kitchen…x20!!!

Besides charm, meter-thick walls offer protection from heat and cold.  So long ago, they were constructed with “rubble” from previous occupiers/dwellers; recent renovations/repairs were found to hide 1st and 2nd Temple era artifacts as well as this huge capstone. Architecture from when!?  WP_20150729_011

This family home is in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, adjacent to the Muslim and Armenian Quarters, and boasts 3 bedrooms, mid-sized livingroom and generous kitchen (by American standards), one bathroom accessed through the family’s private outdoor patio/yard.  The kitchen and bath, while “old”, are obvious additions to the home!

After the tour and history lesson-lite, the show began.  The 3,000 year journey included Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Jeremiah, and revolt against the Romans (2nd Temple) leaders and finally the grand 1948 and 1967 miracles. The skilled voices of father and son in perfect complement, staging, style/song variety, creativity, and humor were enchanting throughout the 50+ minute performance.  An astounding experience.

The young woman sitting beside me shed embarrassed tears at one song, and I did to another song, although not embarrassed.  When tears hit with joy/reality, I embrace them as LIFE indeed.  For too many years they were dried.

Like finishing a powerful book, I regretted the end, and even the wonderful encore. Light Israeli refreshments and mingling with the guests and performers perfectly wrapped the evening and I walked the 45 minutes home through Jerusalem’s noisy, still warm, streets, marveling at the day.

Days later, both experiences ring within me at nearly the same intensity as when they were occurring: How did I end up Here, doing This?  A room full of Survivors mid-day. Imagine: Holocaust survivors’ birthday party!  Stunning.  Lovely.  Bittersweet. Followed by an evening of skill I chose to appreciate rather than envy, in an amazing home.  The pictures don’t catch it, and I can’t make the sometimes-magic of words convey either event.  The downside?  No one to share “can you believe this?!?!” glances, and memories.

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Is God Dead? http://hashem.com/the-odds-of-earth-existing/

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You probably already know how cultures vary in terms of non-sexual affection men show to one another. The American-me is still caught by surprise by men walking hand in hand, as well as women.  These two, faces obviously father-son, passed me hand in hand.  With tears I thought of them walking this way during the healthy years, when neither child nor parent NEEDS their hand held.

Getting to know you… getting to know all about you…(remember the song from The King and I?) https://search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?hspart=SGMedia&hsimp=yhs-sgm_fb&type=ss_ch_ds_ix&p=lyrics%20getting%20to%20know%20you%20getting%20to%20know%20all%20about%20you

These many months far away from friends who know me best has triggered thoughts and emotions.  Preparing for a visit to the U.S., I feel split.  Loyalties? Belonging? Future?

Friendships are important to me.  What does it take for you to make the transition from meeting someone to becoming friends at some meaningful level?  Are you intentional about the process, or do you “go with the flow”?  Mostly I pursue, but I can’t really say why one and not the next.

Are you inclined to think men and women can be friends, or not? How long does it take to know someone well enough to trust them with who you really are?  How do you go about getting to know someone?  Thankfully, some people I’ve met have become/are becoming friends.

I’ve been told, “I’ve told you all about me but I don’t know anything about you.”  I confess that sometimes I think in response, You haven’t asked anything about me.  What do you want to know, if anything at all?   This is not unique to Israel, or new culture, but rather a people-thing I’ve observed for years.  Do you think men or women tend towards asking the questions or doing the talking?  I have an opinion I’ll keep to myself until I hear from you.

Note to self: Am I nervously blabbering about myself, or am I asking appropriate “entry level” questions.

What do you think?