Saturday, April 08, 2006
A few notes as we head into Passover...
As mentioned in a previous post, things are speeding up here in HLC (Holy Land Central) as holiday preps go into the final leg. It's sorta like Christmas frenzy without baby Jesus, mall Santas, fake snow or tacky roof decor.
Tourists are beginning to arrive which is a good thing because the industry took a beating starting in 2000 and finally appears to be recovering. For me, the American visitors are easiest to spot in their Reebok walking shoes and neat coifs strolling the grimy open-air markets, gazing up at street signs with confused imprinted on their foreheads and strolling contentedly along Tel Aviv's beach promenade in highly audible groups.
A funny Passover ism is the supermarket "changeover". Rather than remove yeast-laden products for the holiday, paper sheeting is taped over shelves to cover "offensive" products. So if I reach behind the sheeting during holiday week, grab a bag of pasta and bring it to the register will the Elite Matzoh Unit haul me away?
Rapha (small child) and I spent the day in Jaffa yesterday tooling around the flea market, eating cheese-filled pocket dough at Aboulafia Bakery, checking out the narrow stone passageway galleries and hanging out on benches adjacent to the Crusader era breakfront. As we sat relaxing, a slightly hunched graying man in a tattered black suit and kippah approached the breakfront wall, turned to face the sea and began mumbling silently. My knee-jerk, initial thought was: Nutter.
Hands jammed in pockets he abruptly withdrew a small white sack from his trousers and tossed it into the crashing waves below. Tsk tsk. Not environmentally friendly went another knee-jerk notion. But wait. Was he performing the pre-holiday ritual of ridding himself either of bread products or of sins? The latter - tashlich - is generally reserved for the Jewish New Year. Maybe he does this every Friday because he has so many sins that the sack can't wait a year? Or maybe he got his holidays confused. Who knows? But it was interesting to observe.
Another interesting experience was our First Playground Scuffle. En route home from Jaffa we stopped for fun. Inside a climbing structure obscured from my view a teenager lifted Raphael up and pretended he would throw him.
Sobbing and calling for me, Raphael made his way down the slide. As he sputtered out the story in jags, the offending teen remained hidden inside the structure. A combined lack of Arabic, English or Hebrew on all our parts rendered significant communication with the teen's peers impossible. He ultimately descended, however, and was apologetic (he spoke a smattering of Hebrew) and sheepish when confronted by moi.
I was reminded of a similar situation in San Francisco. The teens there, however, were tossing a basketball back and forth over the heads of a dozen playground toddlers. When requested to refrain, one charming young girl threatened to "whoop" my backside and rearrange my face. Ultimately the police were summoned. Hmmm.
4 more days...