August in Israel (Part 2 of 3)

9 09 2013

This post is a continuation of “August in Israel (Part 1 of 3)“…

Nachlaot

My neighborhood (Nachlaot) is chock full of characters, and everyone has a story.  There’s the local massage therapist who wrote a book called “Cannabis Hassidut”, the Kabbalistic artist who dreamt of our meeting and created a painting inspired by the vision, and the delightful Jewish half-Armenian soul who is a Watsu practitioner and has quickly become one of my very favorites.

A Stunning Painting That Incorporates Visages of My Jerusalem Balcony and Other Symbols

The Painting Incorporates Visages of My Jerusalem Balcony Alongside Other Symbols

Then there is the lovable start-up mafioso with whom I spend most of my time, and of course Yehuda Amram, the unstoppable owner of Falafel Mula, who will insist on giving you free falafel and tehina whenever you pass by his corner.

Yehuda is always singing and dancing to the music in the shop and, the other day, when I was walking back from the shuk, he called me over, handed me a falafel ball and said in English “I want to hold the hand of a beautiful woman and dance with her!” before twirling me around and waving me on my way.  (He does this with everyone.)

And those brief descriptors don’t even begin to provide insight into the depth and backgrounds of these people and the odd yet lovely community that we seem to form together.  Oh, Nachlaot.

Good Natured Force Feeding at the Falafel Shack - Yehuda Is 2nd From The Left

Good Natured Force Feeding at the Falafel Shack – Yehuda Is 2nd From The Left

At first, I was actively trying not to recreate my Austin world in Jerusalem, but within my first week, I found myself invited to a veggie-friendly, composting, wanderlust-type hippie co-op in my neighborhood.  And of course I added the acroyoga, circus and massage beats to my local map.  Because I am intentionally choosing a Sabbath-observant existence in Jerusalem, it can be challenging to be friends with folks who invite me to the sea or to Burner events on Saturdays, but my surroundings here certainly seem to be less anti-religious, which is nice.

Religious Stuff

I’ve been studying at a local yeshiva (Simchat Shlomo – check it out!) and have really been enjoying my exposure to heart-focused Judaism, where much of the teaching focuses on spirituality, self improvement and the honing of behavior to be in line with ideals and values.  Though I am not the type to jump into a new lifestyle whole-hog, I find that I am getting a fair amount out of the classes and I like the rhythm of waking up at 7 am for early morning Hassidut and allowing tefillah (prayer) and learning to balance each other out, heart and mind.

Where the Action Happens - A Women's Study Class at Simchat Shlomo

Where the Action Happens – A Women’s Study Class at Simchat Shlomo

The Jewish study provides a nice counterbalance to circus / secular life and, say what you will, but the religious people whom I have encountered seem to be happier and more well-balanced than their secular counterparts on the whole.  The communities live out their beautiful values and the specific community with which I identify is respectful, inclusive and moderate.

It’ll be interesting to see how I navigate the adjustments between Jerusalem and Austin, especially given that I may make my first foray into the world of art modeling this October, yet spend much of my week in the Ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods of Jerusalem where my elbows and knees are quite covered.

Hassidut-Inspired Post-Class Drawings

Hassidut-Inspired Post-Class Drawings: An Austin-Jerusalem Hybrid?

Continue Reading “August in Israel (Part 3 of 3)“…

posted by ayo

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