Dancing in the Aisles

Every once in a while, I'm reminded of the description I once heard of life in Tel Aviv during the War for Israel's Independence. With all the tension and violence all over the struggling, battered country, people still gathered in the European style coffee shops for socializing and "cultured" conversation.

Batya Medad,

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Every once in a while, I'm reminded of the description I once heard of life in Tel Aviv during the War for Israel's Independence. With all the tension and violence all over the struggling, battered country, people still gathered in the European style coffee shops for socializing and "cultured" conversation.

Today's modern Israel has the same vivid contrasts living side-by-side, simultaneous, multi- and conflicting dimensions. My husband and I spent Shabbat at a Tekuma Shabbaton at the Shalom Hotel. The Tekuma party, if I'm not mistaken, began as the ideological wing of the Mafdal, the National Religious Party. It broke away and joined with Moledet in the National Union party, Ha'Ichud HaLe'umi.

The theme of the Shabbat's program was the media, and the three main speakers were Tzvi Hendel, member of Knesset for Ha'Ichud HaLe'umi, Chagai Segel, journalist, and Eran Sternberg, spokesman for Gush Katif. The rest of us were ordinary people from all over the country.

The Shalom is a nice hotel with an unbeatable view of Jerusalem. I remember when it was built; it cut into our view from what was then our Jerusalem apartment. An advantage of having a group Shabbat there is that there are lots of "public" rooms. Between the first course and the soup we had proof, when something began to leak from the ceiling, at first glance it reminded some of stories of the Titanic. But was neither seawater nor clean rainwater; a sewer pipe had burst in the ceiling above. And in a jiffy, the Arab waiters assisted us in "abandoning" our dining room and setting us up in another one. Not quite the pinui everyone is trying to prevent. And to think that it took place in the Peace Hotel.

After Shabbat, I had plans to meet two of my daughters for a Latin American music concert at the Bible Lands Museum. So, after I saw my husband off on the bus, I walked to the museum. It was one of those gorgeous Jerusalem nights, a tease of spring in the middle of the winter. The air was clean, sweet and dry. Clear sky, diamonds twinkling and sparkling jewels could be seen in every direction.

Most people have no idea how small Jerusalem is. The government offices, Knesset and museums are no more than a kilometer or two from the Central Bus Station. By walking past Binyanei Ha'uma (the National Convention Center) and the hotel behind, it doesn't take long at all. Actually, I got there much more quickly than I needed.

It was so easy to forget the terrorism and tension of our precious country being torn apart. Just a few other people were strolling, and the roads were almost empty.

Before reaching the museum, I passed the sleepy anti-disengagement demonstration site outside of the Knesset. The tents were lit, but there were very few people to be seen. There was none of the excitement, hustle and bustle of the first day. I really didn't feel very connected to it. I wasn't in the neighborhood for politics. I was off to have a good time with my daughters and enjoy the music.

And enjoy we did. All sorts of Jerusalemites and visitors, religious and not so, speaking a variety of languages, came to the Bible Lands Museum for an evening of Latin American music. Before the concert began, we sat at small tables outside of the auditorium and ate from the selections of cheese, crackers, salad and wine, all included in the price of the ticket. The auditorium was full, and soon we were tapping to the rhythm of the music. I could hardly keep still, and some people got up to dance in the aisles.

One, two, cha-cha-cha! If only we could just dance our troubles away.

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