TOO HOLY FOR ME?

I chose Jerusalem as the city I would reside in when I made Aliyah. I wanted to be in the center of the universe. I needed to connect to the most Jewish place on earth.

Jerusalem is known for two things: Religion and the Conflict, with a capital R and C. Living here, you can feel it 24/7. The air is thick and it is not just intense; it is downright tense, period.

Yet it has an energy, a life source and you can feel the pulse of everything that lives and breathes. I love the diversity of Jerusalem, the quirkiness, and the charm of old architecture and the grit of this city. I have reappropriated my blog, 1jewess, to focus on the softer side of Jerusalem, the interesting side! After I moved here, I abandoned Hasbara and became the anti-Hasbara of Hasbara. I have aimed to feature the personality of this place, which is rarely ever shown. I love discovering the art scene here and the creative people who share their talent and beauty. There is fashion, great cafes and restaurants. I have been in awe of the films, theater, dance and music here. Jerusalem is so culturally rich and it has a secular nuance that runs through every facet. I wanted to to remain a voice that could show the world my Jerusalem.

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Yet I cannot seem to get enough air. There is a lack of oxygen in this place that is inescapable. The secular Jews of Jerusalem are such an integral part of the fabric of the city, but it is often stifling, censored and awkward at times. The religious presence is so thick, so strong, that a secular Jew has to be very tough and give not one care to the objection that silently plays on repeat everyday. There is a quiet judging eye always upon me. I am a single woman in her 40’s and I do not dress halachically compliant. The Haredim assume I am not Jewish, hell they think Tel- Avivians are not Jewish either.

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We are more than the costume, more than the trappings. We are more than a transplanted Polish ghetto. We are more than rules, legalism and commentary. We are more than religion. These notions come from my observation; I only speak for myself, not Jerusalemites… how could I?

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Jerusalem is the preservation of the past of Israel.

Tel Aviv is the installment of the future of Israel.

The Haredim are trying to preserve Judaism.

In order to preserve something, you must put it in a jar of formaldehyde.

Nothing, of course can live in there.

They are trying to preserve a cult.

Tel Aviv is trying to preserve a country.

Jerusalem is Talmud Judaism.

Tel Aviv is Jewish culture.

I suppose Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are no different than New York and South Dakota or Los Angeles and Oklahoma.

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Sometimes I fantasize about a musical on the Sinai event, like Alexander Hamilton. It would have gays at Sinai, chicks in halters, Haredim, trans people, non-binary- all singing their guts out to some bad ass hip-hop rendition of the Shema or even Hatikva.

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Jerusalemites dance at the Kotel.

Tel Avivians dance in the club.

Yet we both dance in the streets.

David danced naked before the ark.

We dance in bikinis.

They dance in kippahs.

We both love life and we never stop dancing.

Never.

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THE KOTEL SUCKED TODAY

I picked the worst day of the year to go to the Kotel. How was I supposed to know this is some kind of Greek Orthodox Easter? I had to go through FIVE checkpoints before actually walking through any gate to the Old City.

While I was inside, I felt like a mouse caught in a maze with thousands of mice and hundreds of cats. The mice were the Christians and the cats were the police. So many little walkways were blocked. I literally was stuck in the Old City for an hour and a half- trapped. This would’ve been the perfect storm to set off a terrorist attack- like arson, a bomb, a massive knife-stabbing spree… it was madness.

Yet, I chose to go today- this very day. You see, 48 hours ago I shaved my head bald. I am going through a bought of depression. I have never been depressed before and the past few months have been very dark. I allowed someone to re-enter my life and distract me from my purpose. I forgot myself, my identity and why I moved to Israel. I decided to force a massive change by doing something drastic- and so I shaved my head. This powerful metaphor began to reset my way of thinking.

Jerusalem is not the kind of place a woman walks around bald. I have been hiding under various head coverings in order to not be questioned every five minutes by Israelis as to whether or not I am sick. Yet if I do not own this choice, then what was it all for? If I conceal my baldhead, then I am hiding from the change that I am embarking on.

Oddly enough, of all the head coverings I could have selected today- I chose white gauze. This is what a couple of sects of Christianity wear here in the Middle East. Thus, police all assumed I was Greek Orthodox. I had to explain FIVE times that I am an American Jewish Israeli. Of course, the one and only time I leave my house without my teudat zehut (Israeli identity card) I was asked for it FIVE times. I went through numerous questions and smiled the whole time. The most memorable moment was the security at the Kotel. I was asked to remove my tiny sling pocket book from across my shoulder. In order to do this, I had to carefully remove my white gauze loop from my shoulders, while keeping the top of my head covered.

Once the item was returned to me and I was putting it back on- the woman who sits at the Kotel security to ensure all women have proper shoulder covering- told me I had to cover my shoulders. I looked her in the eye and said – “this white fabric I am wearing is precisely for that purpose.” DUH!!!!

Upon realizing I was trapped in the Old City, I tried to leave through two different areas. First I ended up on the Mount of Olives exit. Sorry, just no. Then I ended up just plain lost. I was told to go one way and it it landed me as far away from home as I could to be. By this time my feet were bleeding. I was wearing sandals that I cannot walk a far distance in. They were perfectly fine for me literally walking across the street to the Old City, but not walking two miles in a circle.

I ended up taking a cab for merely 5 minutes; I just needed to get out of the cluster fuck. The cab driver asked me about the white gauze and 100 more questions, which after living here 18 months, I’ve learned that a single American female must lie.

He tells me I owe him 50 shekels. I told him I had exactly 20 shekels and he was welcome to it. Asks me out on a date, then wants to triple charge me… Bah.

Sadly all of this distracts from my Kotel experience and why I needed to go there today. I needed to reconnect with myself, my Jewish self, me, Yael, not Kara. I needed the universe to see evidence that I am ready for drastic change. I went there to present myself to HaShem at our holy site. However, the Kotel did not behave the way I assumed it would. It was not somber and holy. There were children playing, eating snacks, and women shooting the breeze- just having total benign bullshit conversation at the Kotel. People were on their smartphones taking pictures and there I was- bald, wrapped in white gauze needing a sacred moment and it was ruined.

Can we talk about Kotel etiquette? Seriously Jews- WTF? It’s bad enough you litter on the ground at our holy site, it’s bad enough you hindered me today from my personal spiritual objective. If the Jewish people cannot respect their own holy sites, why should we expect the world to take our claim to them seriously?

I am home now, sipping Judean wine, my feet are tapped up and my twelve floor to ceiling windows are open. I wonder how long it will take me to stop covering my baldhead and just be? Sure, I will have an inch of hair in five weeks, which is all I require to feel like I am no longer bald. I could’ve done a buzz cut, but that would’ve fallen short of the purge, the goal, and the test. If I were living in the US this wouldn’t have had any meaning. It is the fact that being a bald woman in Israel- particularly Jerusalem is not socially accepted. I will be kind to myself, stop judging myself and see how I feel tomorrow.

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Stop turning Passover into a guilt-ridden, depressing holiday | The Jerusalem post

It would be better to remember the message of the Passover Haggada the rest of the year than just be self-critical at the Seder.
— Read on m.jpost.com/Opinion/Stop-turning-Passover-into-a-guilt-ridden-depressing-holiday-547659

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Dayenu ‘warfare’ is Persian seder tradition – Arts Culture – St. Louis Jewish Light

When I tell people how my Persian family celebrates Passover, many people tell me that they want to be Sephardic.  I don’t know that we’ll be able to swing the rice and legumes, but as far as I know, there are no prohibitions on green onions.
— Read on m.stljewishlight.com/content/tncms/live/

Lmao 😂 this is awesome

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Who wrote the Torah? – Jewish World – Haaretz – Israel News | Haaretz.com

Who wrote the Torah? – Jewish World – Haaretz – Israel News | Haaretz.com
— Read on www.google.co.il/amp/s/www.haaretz.com/amp/jewish/.premium-who-wrote-the-torah-1.5318582

I’ll always have questions. Always…

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