Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Shabbat in Indian Territory

I know its a few weeks too late, but I sorta spent Shabbat Chaye Sarah in Indian Territory, er uh I mean Chevron. I'd had posted this a little earlier if it werent for the beaureucratic bungling of my yeshiva (i finally have regular access to punks), but what the heck, its all good.

On Friday morning I got a ride from the Tachana ha-merkazit (central bus station) in Jerusalem to Gilo where I had to switch to a tank er uh i mean an armored bus. Those things honestly remind me if not of a tank than a submarine on wheels (dont ask). We sorta passed Beit Jala and Beit Lechem and a whole bunch of other Arab towns, the scarry part was that the road was often flanked by slabs of concrete which i think were to block sniper fire, not that I heard any. As we got closer to Chevron we saw these palestinian guys peddling flowers on the side of the highway from their donkey carts, no joke. It was strikingly similar to the Bronx without the donkey carts. Those donkeys simply cant compete with stolen shopping carts.

Eventually we pulled into Kiryat Arba (Fort DB Cooper), the only problem was that I had to get to Chevron and apparently the bus we were on doesnt go there. Of course being resourceful as I all ways am I called up my Israeli contact who tells me to hitchhike to Hebron, Kikar Gross to be specific. Well to say the least that freaked me out a bit, I think a few years ago some people were shot waiting outside Kiryat Arba to hitchhike/tremp. After trying unsuccessfully for a while I ended up walking with a group of unarmed american yeshiva students down the road between Hebron and Kiryat Arba to Chevron.

Eventually I got to where I had to go, and was sent to the Tel-Romeda neighborhood on top of Har Hevron near the carravans where i stayed for shabbat. I actually stayed in a home that was once owned by an arab who moved out when palestinian snipers hit his home while firing at jews.

I forgot to mention that I wasnt the only jew in chevron that shabbat. The parsha of Chaye Sara is about the death of Sarah and Avraham as well as Avraham's buying of Ma'arat Hamachpela (literally "double cave") from Efron the Hittie. It is customary for peopel to go to chevron that shabbat and show their support for Jewish ownership of the land, especially since it was bought legally by our forefather, as far as how that reflects my own political flipping and de-flipping stay tuned.

I davened that night at Machpela, with a whole load of other jews. That evening I had Seudat Shabbat outside in Shechunat Shalhevet (named after the infant Shalhevet Pass who was brutally murderd by a palestinian sniper a few years ago). The whole area had plaques dedicated to people murdered their in the past few years during the Intifada. The neighborhood itself was in a valley overlooked by hundreds of arab homes. We even had a IDF sniper on the roof of the building next to us and another soldier who was watching the arab cemetary to make sure no one snuck through it. The neighborhood itself has a bit of a controversial history, it was owned by jews who lived their before the 29' massacre and afterwards taken over by arabs. jews returned to it when they returned to chevron, however the arabs are currently pressing to take it for themselves. What else is new?

That night I spent some time dancing (the orthodox jewish type, go figure) in Kever Yitzchak in Machpela, which is cool because its a Mosque which is rarely opened to Jews.

That night for some strange reason an Israeli kid who decided he was dumb enough not to bring a sleeping bag decided to park himself on my matress in the middle of the night. fair to say I was pretty close to beating the Hummus out of him.

On shabbat morning I prayed in the "grave area" of Avraham and Sarah. The truth is that no one really knows exactly where the particular couples are buried, its most likely that they lie somewhere underneath in the actual cave complex, and not in the symbolic "tombs" above ground. While walking to machpela that morning we ended up passing a group of palestinian kids going to school as well as a group of westerners with radical leftwing leanings, I guess you could say it reminded me of Hunter, are those socialists still there on the 3rd floor?

The rest of the day went rather smoothly with an excelent tour of Jewish Chevron that is currently influencing my political thoughts regarding the area.

As you might assume i got back to school all in one piece, and well... to say this was definitly the coolest shabbat of my life is an understatement, it beats all previous adventures combined. So strike those other posts from the record. Now ill try and get a little bit of sleep.

1 Shpeils

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Blogger sweetspastic said...

Wow--this is amazing! Thanks for writing about it... and I'm glad you got back in one piece.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005 7:43:00 PM  

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