a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

Israel Part 4

Posted on: December 1, 2011

Call to Prayer in Jerusalem

Being back in New York is definitely taking some getting used to.  Israel, while fresh in my mind and in my heart always, has become like a sorted love affair.  There are many beautiful memories that make the love affair sweet.  The sound of Adhan coming from 4 different mosques in Jerusalem, walking through the Old City,  shadows of the Negev cooling my skin, falafel for 3 shekels.  Other parts make me wonder why I love Israel so damn much.  What has Israel ever done for me?  I barely know Israel!   Furthermore, I keep seeing and hearing things (like this, and this, and this) that make it very difficult to remember those sweet times.  More on my thoughts and pinkwashing later.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way to figure out what is really happening in our relationship is to give it time and work on it.  Just like a relationship with a person, Israel and I will have our ups and downs-right now we’re in a rocky stage.  We’ve only been together for about three weeks (this is supposed to be the “honeymoon” period)but already I’m disappointed.  This is why you shouldn’t set your expectations too high.  The Internet and papers have been a buzz with the latest campaign to bring Israelis living outside of Israel back home.  It’s gotten to the point that the Netanyahu Government Suggests Israelis Avoid Marrying American Jews.  Besides those videos I found this gem today.  Thankfully, I also came across this video which reminds me of the faces I saw while on my trip. 

My post today consists of pieces of journal from our first few days in the Negev.  Enjoy.


11.12.11 around 6:30 AM


(Reflections on our drive from Ben Gurion to the Negev) Remember that scene from Under the Tuscan Sun when Diane Lane finds herself on a bus full of gay folks?  The tour driver hands out green hats that read “Gay and Away”  That’s what it feels like right now, except our hats display the name of the touring company.  I won’t be wearing this hat (it won’t fit over my hair anyway).  The landscape around me looks strangely familiar, I really could be any where.  Bare farm land, telephone lines, a random car kicking up dust on a dirt rode…then the unfamiliar.  Palm trees, cypress trees in the distance, an Israeli flag, a Palestinian flag, goats and camels.  We pass Bedouin villages, little shacks along the road.  They remind me of parts of Costa Rica. The signs are first written in Hebrew, then Arabic, then English.  Like the scenery they go from normal: “Next Exit 10km” to abnormal to my American eyes:”Fire area-Beware”


Waking up this morning does not sound like waking up in Jerusalem.  None of the sounds are familiar mainly because it’s so quiet here.  Around me-the normal chattering of birds and the hum of the mobile heating unit reminds me of my air conditioner in New York.  The sounds of children playing is also familiar, until I try to listen to their conversation and realize they’re speaking in either Hebrew or Arabic…


We are in the Negev.  I still cannot believe that I am here.  I know that I will be writing that a lot and that I will be feeling that a lot.  I’ve never been to a desert before.  I think I like it .  I like how on the surface it all looks the same, dry and brown.  If you look deeper or farther out on horizon you can actually see other colors like pink, orange and red. 


(reflections on Shabbat in the Dessert)…when we reached L’Cha Dodi during Shabbat service last night Rabbi Golan asked that we all follow him out of our warm-ish Bedouin tent where we’d spent the previous hours talking, eating, and getting to know one another into the cold dessert evening.  We followed him quite timidly out of the tent in the fashion of the originators of this tradition, the Kabbalistic Jews of Tsfat.  We went into the darkness, under the full moon and the lyrics of L’cha Dodi left me.  I strained for a while, trying to see the impossibly small print in my bencher, but soon realized that trying to read the words wasn’t as meaningful as experiencing this kind of Shabbat experience.

2 Responses to "Israel Part 4"

It’s kind of like when Maude danced with John Wayne. Some of his values offended her sensibility, she hated herself for being attracted to him. But in the end, she said, “Oh, what the hell,” and danced.

Maybe that’s kind of how you’re feeling?

Exactly. I love Israel so much, but I have to remember that I can’t expect everything from it. I have to remember that it will at times disappointment me and at other times fill me with joy.

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