Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pictures and stories

So. Too many things are happening, or in any case flowing through my brain, for each and all of them to be given it's own lengthy post, although they deserve it. So I thought I'd just post a bunch of pics and let you know what they mean....

Below is the front of the Shul where I say my afternoon prayers. It's mostly comprised of Jews from Tunis and Morocco. It has a beautiful exterior in Jerusalem limestone and a Gabbai named Emil who scolds me whenever I've missed a day or two. One thing with Shuls in Europe is that they are old. Old interior, old style Aron Hakodesh, old people, old, uncomfortable benches from before WWII. I sometimes thing they are unconsciously made into memorials and witnesses of the world that was murdered by Europe. Synagogues in Israel on the other hand are new. Well lit, modernly designed, people of all ages, chairs so comfortable you risk falling asleep in them on Shabbes.

The cats. Every city in the world has a choice. Either they are full of rats or they are full of cats. Israeli cities have mostly opted for the latter, and hence have a large population of beautiful and more or less wild cats. And they are big and strong, as it's survival of the fittest. So when you go to through your garbage in the open containers (courtesy of - in Beer Sheva - Veolia, you know the dudes who run the metro in Stockholm), you risk getting a bunch of screaming cats popping out of them. In the little plaza below the building there is however an "antique" store owner who gives food and shelter to some of these cats. She is known as the Cat Lady. Yesterday I bough some "antique" Shabbes Chandeliers from Her. They might be like 40 years old. Made of copper. Green.

Someday I'll try to write something on Israeli architecture. For now I'll just say that it's comprised of an interesting hodge-podge of super modern and strange and horribly ugly and beautiful. Below some representative pics.

Chanuka. We've been celebrating Chanuka lately, a celebration of the Maccabi Brothers victory ofer the Syrian Hellenists, where the Temple was cleansed of idols and rededicated to the worship of the One God. After the victory the priests only found enough holy oil for the Golden Menorah to last one day, but through a miracle it lasted 8 days until new oil had been produced. So we light 8 candles, 1 on the first day, 2 on the second, etc...Quentin was given a free oil Chanukiah. It was of a disastrous design however, and the wicks wouldn't burn.

Rabbi Nissim lighting the Chanukkiah for his family, followed by singing and dancing with some of his 13 kids.

My adoptive family. Well, or something of the like. I've been very, very fortunate in founding a family like that of Rabbi Nissim. His door is always open like that of Abraham Avino, and he always have time for a cup of coffee, some Torah study and a cigarette. I'm there several times a week, studying, eating and just hanging out. We only communicate in Hebrew as his English actually is worse that my Heeb. His kids are a wonderful, noisy, happy and polite bunch. As soon as they get a chance they steal my cell phone and run away with it to take photos. These photos are usually not much, but a few of the (where I figure) are at least workable:-)

Orthodox Jewish families and child rearing. While I have heard stories of orthodox authoritarian families, I have never seen them. On the contrary. The happiest, most harmonious, most childish, most polite and kindest children I have ever met, I have met in Orthodox families.

My Rabbi and his wife have 13 kids. The oldest is 26 and the youngest is 3. And the children are omnipresent. And make a fantastic noise at times. The dance, study Torah, argue and keep demanding answers and interventions from their parents, not to mention help with their homework, meddling in conflicts and proofs of affection. They also very much take care of each other. And the Rabbi and his wife, with the patience of angels, oblige. What I have seen in orthodox families is this: The children have very few rules. They are allowed to be children, to spill food, to interrupt, to be loud, to have fun. All the time and everywhere. However. The few rules they have they happily respect, and almost always they do what they are being asked to. albeit often after some tweaking.  

On religious families the children are not something cute in the periphery that can be tolerated as long as they don't "disturb" the adults. They are quite obviously the whole point of being alive, they are the most important part of the Jewish Home, they represent the future and the continuation of our people. And there is no TV. No DVD. No electronic baby sitters at all. The family actually spends all their time with eachother - talking, eating, arguing, laughing. And the love and patience and tolerance their parents show them, they also show to each other. The older ones are mirror images of their parents in the way they behave to their younger siblings. I used to get stressed out by the omnipresent ruckus in this family. But now it makes me feel calm. It's the ongoing sound of a loving and happy family, and I can just sit down on a chair and lean back and almost fall asleep by this sound. It's a sound of real happiness.

The sand storm finally passed. It too a good few hours to clean out all the sand flour from the apartment, that had stuck to everything everywhere.

 Below your truly, bracing himself to go outside.....during said storm. Other than that the mercury keeps falling and I bought a winter jacket. You get used to the heat to the extent that you start freezing at 10 degrees....And that's all for now.

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