Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A bit of Nachlaot, joining the protest, and some Tisha B'av

Last Thursday I met up with Galya for lunch at the shuk. Even though I'd shared a pasta dish with Leah the night before at the restaurant with Sam's dad, of course Galya and I got pasta (that's all we ate in Italy!). And even though Galya had just been on a tour of the Nachlaot neighborhood--bordering the Machane Yehuda neighborhood, which the shuk is part of--with the army, I made her take me through it. It some combination of tenement-style one-on-top-of-the-other apartments, religious and non-religious neighborhoods, and funky artsy galleries, including one of the only thrift stores I've found in Jerusalem. (The other thrift store had this doll, which was gone the next day when I went back. Who would buy it!?)
This is the door to a synagogue in Nachlaot

Just a pretty rusted-red door in Nachlaot, with some fuchsia flowers growing in front 

If the news of the mass-protests on the streets of Israel has reached the buses in Shanghai, as Naomi has informed me that it has, then I'm sure it's been reported in the States. Earlier this summer there was a boycott of cottage cheese (which might not seem like a big deal, but here it's a staple food), because the price has gone up dramatically in the past few years. Although I'm not sure how related the "rent is too damn high" protests are to the cottage cheese, Israel is certainly in the mood to protest [in addition to the students/everyone protesting high rent prices, parents protesting the increasing costs of public education were on the streets, as well as groups protesting various other policies. The protesters are specifically non-partisan, but are calling for a more socialist approach to government]. Saturday night the estimates put the number of protesters out in the streets of Jerusalem at about 30,000, with 200,000 in Tel Aviv and another 70,000 or so throughout the rest of Israel.
I went partly to see the showing, and partly because it's a pity to be in a country when such a big act of civil society is taking a place and to not at least see it.

I went with Sam [yet another Sam from Yale who's in Israel for the summer. I had Shabbat lunch with him and his grandfather] and his grandfather to the protest. The path went from the center of town down Ben Yehuda Street, by Gan Ha'atzmaut, up to Keren HaYesod, and ended a few hundred meters from the Prime Minister's Compound.
Among the slogans: "Gilad also deserves a house." Gilad, of course, is the Israeli soldier who was captured by Hamas immediately before the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006, and who is still in captivity.

The crowd. Many of the slogans were parodies of popular songs and phrases.

Israel's only hipster? I liked this guy. The sign says, "WE ARE THE ALL SINGING ALL DANCING CRAP OF THE WORLD." I'm not sure what that means, but they were having a ball.

People of all backgrounds were there: black and white, Sephardi and Mizrahi and Ashkenazi, men and women, single and married, religious and secular, students and adults, children and grandparents

The sign says "The nation demands social justice". It's one of the slogans of the movement. As you can see from this picture, there really were 30,000 people out on the streets in Jerusalem. The little boy on his father's shoulders next to the banner, and a religious man sitting on the traffic light to get a better view.

A family affair

Daniel Gastfriend comes to visit! And of course, when Daniel comes to visit, we go out for ice cream :) The friend from his year at the Mechina that he'd been staying with is the cousin of my friend Ariel from the Mechina. Also, a word of advice: never order ice cream before Daniel. You will be done with your two scoops before he's done taste-testing every flavor in order to decide what to get (this is the same at dining halls at school. Consider yourselves warned). Chen came down to Jerusalem to visit, as well!

There are still some crazies in Jerusalem. This is a poster inviting people to read Lamentations on the Temple Mount on Tisha B'av (the 9th day of the month of Av), a day of commemoration and mourning in the Jewish calendar. At any time of the year, it is forbidden to pray/read scripture that is not Muslim on the Temple Mount--I'm sure that during Ramaddan, these restrictions are taken even more seriously.
Tisha B'av mourns the destruction of both the first and the second Temples in Jerusalem, which tradition tells us were destroyed on the same date. Among the other tragedies in Jewish history that also occurred on this date are the declaration of the First Crusade in 1095, the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492, and the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto. Traditionally, Jews fast on Tisha B'av. Similar to Yom Kippur, the fast goes from sundown to sundown, and other things like washing oneself and wearing leather shoes are also prohibited. Unlike Yom Kippur, however, one is allowed to use electronics, etc. on Tisha B'av. It is also customary to read the Megilla of Eicha (Lamentations) while sitting on the floor.

This is me NOT on the Temple Mount. Adj's friend was in town--and she with a friend of hers from Paris--and wanted to go to the Kotel (Western Wall). I walked with them there, and unfortunately the authorities were extremely meticulous about boundaries between the men's area and the women's, including in the courtyard, which is not usually separated. However, we found a group of three women reading Eicha, and when thy were finished they lent us their book so we could read it, which I did, aloud. Afterwards we wandered towards the mechitza (divider between men and women), and found a man sitting next to his wife, reading Eicha with the tune, so we sat quietly behind them and listened.
And now I've begun packing. I'm not sure how everything's going to fit, since I'm going home with about twice as many books as I came with, and not really getting rid of much. Good thing I brought an extra gym bag, to take full-advantage of my two-pieces-of-checked-baggage allowance!

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