Monday, November 9, 2009

The Feel of Jerusalem, Part I

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Jerusalem is definately a special place. Compared to the other places in Israel that we went, and they were all good, Jerusalem has a sort of different feel to it. First of all, the people in Jerusalem are diverse. It is a melting pot of Jews.


Here in the midwest, we are exposed to one type of Chassidic group, mainly the Lubavitch group (also known as Chabad). They may stand out in St. Louis for simple reasons, i.e. beard, black pants, white shirt, black hat, sometimes a longer black jacket, tzitzit. They are friendly and smart and kind.


In Jerusalem, there are many more Chassidic and Haredi groups, each slightly different in their appearance. There are some who have big, fur hats, long curly payis, thick coats, short beards, black kippot, etc. Very diverse.

There are even those who cup their hands over their eyes so as to avoid eye contact and accidentally "looking" at someone of the opposite sex. These men were very interesting. If a whole group passed, the first man would cup his eyes and the rest would close or shield their eyes, being guided by each placing their arms/hands on the backs of the others with the cupped-handed-person leading the blind group!

It isn't unusual to see young Heradi boys around 14 smoking cigarettes opening.

There are the girls and women, modestly dressed. They dress a lot like me! :) Sometimes they would have a trail of children, all mainly well-behaved with the older ones helping out with the younger ones. If the father accompanied them, he always seemed kind, patient and helping out in a meaningful way. This was my observation on the plane rides as well.

Then there are others wandering around Jerusalem. Normal, everyday Jews. Some with kippot. Some without. All Jewish with their Jewishness not entirely wrapped up in their "religion." And there are Arab Jerusalemites who seemed to be the same economic status as everyone else in Jerusalem. Successful. Business owners. Workers. [click here for interesting article concerning Arab Jerusalemites.]

A segment of Jerusalem is made up of tourists. Irish, English, Christian pilgrims. Chinese. There were a lot of Chinese tourists when we were there. Americans, too.

Jerusalem is a melting pot of Jews. Arabs. Tourists. Seeing so many different looking, believing, and life styles of Jews in one place definately makes an impression.

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