Tatted leg and long beards

9 April 2011

So after leaving the majority of my life in Yeruham, I slowly was able to collect my belongings.  On Rosh Hashannah, I gathered my suitcases from storage and made arrangements for a friend of a friend to bring them the Jerusalem.  Udi, the typical religious man of Yeruham-long beard, colorful hand made kippa, Teva sandals and long tzitzit dangling from all corners, worked in Jerusalem and agreed to bring them, I just had to get them. 

 I guess I didn’t really know what to expect since I was unfamiliar with the area of town and never met Udi, I took a leap of faith and hoped it would work out.   I asked for a ride from one of the staff members here, but was she unable to help out.  So I had no choice but to take the bus.  Now usually, I have no issue with the bus.  I love the exploration of a new city and especially being the visual learner I am more likely to remember something if I see it.  I had no idea what bus to take so I went on a quest, first to school to ask the local buses that passed by. 

Then I asked some Israelis…no luck. 

 Somewhere in that way I found someone who told me I needed bus 15.  I never heard of bus 15.  So I began walking through downtown making my way towards the central bus station in hopes I’d find bus 15. 

An hour later….no luck!  A million different directions and clue where I was going, I called the bus company and the woman directed to a bus, that no else had mentioned, but hey this was my best shot! 

 Now the weather shifted  and I just so happened to have brought along a  long sleeve shirt.  I was still wearing my flip-flops and skirts, cause it wasn’t that cold, but this particular day I decided not to wear my usual booby-licious tank top.  We passed the Central bus station an headed towards Kiryat Moshe.  I knew that this was a “religious-ish” neighborhood but having never been I didn’t know how “religious-ish” it was.  Udi, the guy from Yeruham, kept calling to see where I was.  Turns out, I was on the wrong bus and my big suitcase was waiting for me on the other side of town.  

I didn’t really know where I was going so I just started walking in the opposite direction.  I knew the way I had come led me back to the bus station, although it was a long way….. thankfully my elbows and knees were covered, but I was walking around with my nose pierced three times, tat leg showing and my oversized jingle jangle earrings.  Clearly I didn’t fit in and knew I was subject to looks for the next 15 minutes or so until I could figure out where the hell I needed to go. Not knowing where was going, and I ended up walking the way the bus had just dropped me off.   I knew that if I kept going I would dead-end into an overlook that was built on top of  an abandoned Palestinian village.  The irony is that there is a natural source of water there, and although the village still remains in ruins, the Yeshiva boys of the neighborhood go there to swim in the spring.

And so it was, I was lost in depths of religious Jerusalem, covered in tattoos and feeling totally exposed.  Thankful for my cotton shirt so didn’t have boobies all over the place too.  This is the part of Jerusalem I avoid, and unknowingly I am here to collect my stuff.   Every moment I can’t wait to leave.  The looks…this isn’t my Judaism nor is it my Jerusalem.  Built on the ruins of others pain, closed off to inclusivity, I found myself doubting who I am and feeling shameful for being there.  I finally got my suitcases and Udi called a taxi for me.   A little later I was invited for Shabbat dinner in the same part of town.  I had to say no.  I have enough to deal with than to put myself in the same type of situation.  Next time I go back I’ll be prepared, learned, open and ready for the challenge.  I’ll woo them with my Hebrew,and study of Torah and engage them in a debate about progressive Judaism.  I’ll be that Reform girl who challenges them and holds herself down.  I won’t be that Reform girl was, exposed and unprepared in their turf.  I’ll be ready.  But for now, I think I’m gonna eat on my side of town.



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