Thursday, January 28, 2010

Seen in Jerusalem

Three scenes:

I've pointed out repeatedly in the past that Israeli hospitals disprove all the stereotypes about ethnic relations in this country. Well, yesterday I spent a few hours at one of our local colleges (not the university). A three-building campus chock full of young people busy learning so as to do better in life. I saw religious Jews, including many head-covered married young women; secular Arabs (in jeans), secular Jews (in jeans), and religious Arabs (more severe head-cover than the married Jews); I heard Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, French, and American; and the halls were even more crowded than necessary because small roving teams of art or photography students seemed to be engaged in some project which called for them to be filming life between classes. The teams seemed to be as multi-ethnic as everyone else in the halls.

This morning I sat for a bit in a hallway at one of our medical centers (not a hospital) waiting for some document. Behind a counter were two young women, one secular (jeans...) and the other haredi, head cover and all (a wig. Young married haredi women, unlike young married mdern orthodox women, eschew hats, scarfs, kerchiefs and so on, and stick with the appearance of natural hair. See if you can figure out that one). By and by a 40-ish doctor came out of his office and started chatting with the Haredi woman:
Dr: I hear they're sending you to some course?
Haredi woman, grinning: Yes! I'm going to study administration!
Dr: And what will you do with it once you've studied?
She: Maybe I'll run this department.
Dr: Or another department, elsewhere. Lily took that course, and now she runs the branch in French Hill.
She: And then, who knows, maybe I'll run this entire organization [which is large. What the Americans would call an HMO].
Dr. Well, I don't think they'll let you run it, that's a slot that a physician will always fill, but you could be the top administrator, would that be good enough?
She: Yes, that's a goal I'd aim at.

Third story: Earlier today in one of the warrens of 19-century vintage small apartments and narrow alleys, south of Jaffa street. No cars can get in here, and very few pedestrians pass through. Two very old men are sitting in the perfect winter sun that Jerusalem sometime has in January, one talking animatedly and his friend leaning towards him and listening earnestly. As I pass -
I've never raised my hand at her. But if you listen to her, I've ruined the family, I'm the cause of all evil, everything's my fault. So I said to her, You know what? I'm a bad man, my intentions were always to ....
That's all I can tell you about him.


Anonymous said...

I don't get the third story...

Anonymous said...

Neither do I.


Anonymous said...

I think I do (get it)
but if I'm right it has a Koan-like quality and thus exceeds my ability to explain myself.

sparrow said...

I love these pastiche. More please.