Sunday, May 22, 2005

Tzfat blog #1 -- Dec. 2002

Tsfat Blog – winter

I had thought about writing a “blog” entitled “Christmas in Tsfat”, and then leaving the rest of the page blank. Except for the news broadcasts describing the celebrations in other parts of the world, there is no indication here to give one a hint that December 25th is a day any different than the 24th, the 23rd, or the 22nd. There have, however, been other occasions for celebration here during the past few weeks, notably the wedding of a neighbor – a former Detroiter who lives in Tsfat, down the street from me.

Avraham is gaining fame as a young artist who combines his study of Kabbalah with his art. He came to Tsfat about 8 years ago, bought a house in the Artists Quarter, and opened a gallery where he works and teaches. Avraham’s home has, over the years, become “the place” where young people and the young-at-heart gather for Shabbat meals, and they bring a combination of psudo-hippy cheer, Shlomo Carlebach melodies, and Breslaver Hassic enthusiasm to their gatherings. Avraham is neither a hippy nor a Carlebach or Breslaver Hassid, and, for the most part, neither are the people who sit with him at his Shabbat meals. But as they sit together in Avraham’s open courtyard, singing, nigguning, and discussing Torah and Judaism, the various traditions fuse into a Berkeley-type commune of good will and brotherhood.

So…one can imagine what the wedding was like! The crowd was eclectic…Avraham’s family from Detroit and Rananna, Rebecca’s from Baltimore, various neighbors and friends…and dozens and dozens of young people who have been hosted by Avraham throughout the years. The hair-styles ranged from shaved/payos to dreadlocks, and the women’s head-coverings ranged from Hassidic wigs to scarves wrapped in a dozen myriad ways. In addition, there were plenty of t-shirts and jeans to be seen in the crowd. Many guests brought along their own flutes, bongo-drums, and guitars, and played throughout the evening. People who I remembered drifting through my neighborhood in saris and jalibias in years past now mingled with others in streimels and tailored suits…many with their babies and toddlers in tow.

An advertisement for the phrase “Kol Yisrael Zeh L’Zeh” (“All of Israel is One”) if I’ve ever seen it.

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