Monday, June 02, 2008

How I Spent Jerusalem Day

First I got a haircut from my hairdresser, Eric of Alaska, who gives me the best haircuts I’ve ever had. After having waited nearly all of the Omer period (the time between Passover and Shavuot when Jews do not cut their hair, at least until Lag ba-Omer), it felt great!

But I slowly realized that I wasn’t feeling that great. Once I got to work, I found I couldn’t concentrate, and the words on the screen were all running together. Oh, terrific, I thought. Fever.

It was, and how. I took my temperature the moment I got home and found that it was 101 degrees Fahrenheit. When I took it again a few hours ago, it was 101.8. (Great. I feel like a walking FM dial. Do I hear 102? Not!)

So that put paid to any ideas of attending Jerusalem Day festivities. The only things I did in honor of Jerusalem Day were to congratulate my friend, who is receiving the Distinguished Citizen of Jerusalem award as I write this, and go to bed.

I got up a few hours later, feeling a little better, to prepare some dinner. Then, about an hour before sunset, some loud music started outside my window. It was a mix of Ashkenazi and Mizrahi religious music, with an MC shouting into a crackly microphone. I looked outside the window and saw a truck topped with a neon-light crown in the middle of the street below. I’ve seen that truck, or others like it, before. They are used for a celebration known as hakhnsat sefer Torah—the installation and inauguration of a new Torah scroll.

That was all very nice, but still I couldn’t help feeling upset by the loudness of the music. This community wanted to celebrate their new Torah scroll—fine! Great! Mazal tov! But did they have to make the music so loud so that even with the windows closed, it sounded like it was coming from my own living room? And I felt so awful, too.

But then I had a different thought. Yes, the music was far too loud. Yes, if it had been up to me, I would have hired real, live musicians to perform acoustically, so that the music in the street would have been a pleasant invitation, not a club striking repeatedly on the head. Nevertheless... it was Jerusalem Day, and finally I stopped my internal grumbling long enough to be grateful that we can hold a celebration for a new Torah scroll here.

Yom Yerushalayim sameah!

(P.S. There are lots of posts I’d love to link to, but I’m just too tired to do it now. So I’ll say this: head over to Treppenwitz and Imshin, and just scroll down and read. Imshin has a lovely bonus, too: lots of YouTube videos of classic Israeli songs, including some of my favorites.)

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