Sunday, December 9, 2007

A Presidential Pizzeria

Ovadia St. is a tiny, grimy alley off the main thoroughfare of Shivtei-Israel/Mea Shearim. This is where the poorest of the haredi community lives, and only they. No-one else would dream of living in this part of town - tho 60 years ago, the child who would one day grow up to be Amos Oz lived two small blocks over. (He was named Klausner in those days). And Haim Beer lived a block or two in the other direction, but he at least was orthodox (and also had a different name, which escapes me at the moment).

The Haredi community is probably the only one anywhere that can comfortably give the Palestinians of Gaza a good run for their money in matters of fertility (and maybe even win), so this whole section of town is always teeming, mostly with young people, young people with children, children with baby siblings and so on. It's a poor area, by definition, because those of the community who can afford to do so, move elsewhere, often to small towns that they're filling up such as Beit Shemesh, or Beitar, or Kiryat Sefer, or others.

So it's teeming, and it's poor. Also, most people here are very highly educated, yes, but in the things they're interested in. So, not the things you'd recognize in a neighborhood of highly educated people. Lot's of bookstores, for example, but no titles that can be found on Amazon, and hardly any titles that can be found in the bookstores in the center of town, a mere half mile to the south.

Ovadia St. is named after the last of the prophets, but to be honest, it doesn't give him that much to be happy about, if he's looking down on us. Dingy. Ugly. A scraggly tree or two. The stores are all small, cluttered, and unappealing. About half a block off the main road, on the left, is a hole in the wall that calls itself a pizzeria, with a counter, three stools, two small tables, all behind a dusty windowpane and illuminated by a few rather forlorn fluorescent bulbs. For some unfathomable reason, given the surroundings, the owner has chosen to name himself after an American president, and to make his point, has even done so in English:

Klinton's Pizza.

1 comment:

Lydia McGrew said...

Yes, I would think that would be the _last_ president the Haredi would find attractive.