Monday, August 30, 2004

"Do you think it would be ok for me to go take a picture of that banner welcoming Ghandi and his delegates?"

I am far too confused to give R. any answer short of a bewildered look. She disappears into the crowd toward the banner. Trying to stick close to people I know, I make my way through the crowd until I find myself standing beside the Green Sheikh's two daughters and Laura, the documentarian. A Palestinian boy taps me from behind.

"Shalom Alechem. Salaam Aleikum"
"Salaam Aleikum." We smile at each other and shake hands, and before I get a chance to figure out what to say next, one of the many local security guards swarming around us pushes the boy back, and suddenly we are being hurriedly escorted and pushed back into the cars. As the police cars flanking the multi-car processional (motorcade, is it called?) through Bethlehem start up their sirens, I shake my head and wonder how Eliyahu's invitation to take a bus with him to Bethlehem turned into this. I look around and realize I did not see R. get into a car--I look back and see a blue bandanna floating in the throngs behind us.

Shit. I just lost R. in the middle of Bethlehem. Yosef, who is sitting next to me, offers me his cell phone, and I call her, and again and again, but there is no answer.

Before I have a chance to figure out what to do next, we are being pulled back out of the cars, where we find ourselves at the center of an enormous parade in honor of Arun Ghandi's visit, led by Palestinian children and teenagers in uniforms of yellow and brown and green (imagine variations on the boy scout uniform) marching with instruments. I find one of the women who seemed to be coordinating the event marching next to me, and I ask her if she has seen my friend. She says that she hasn't and offers me her cell phone to try to call again. No answer.

We arrive at the main square of the city, at a building called Bethlehem Center for Peace, or something of that sort. As I find myself being pushed onto a stage by various large, friendly men in security and military uniforms, I finally see R. arrive, flanked by the delegation from Rabbis for Human Rights. She had gotten into a car further back, with two reporters from a South Florida newspaper.

On stage, we find our way to a spot in the back, where we can stand slightly less conspicuously behind several rows of chairs. The square in front of us is flooded with thousands of people--many in the front have framed pictures like those I saw in Ramallah, but there are fewer this time, and there seems to be a greater diversity of people in the crowd.

A series of speakers take the podium, each to welcome and introduce Ghandi. Eliyahu in front of me, and a very kind woman beside me who explains that she is a friend of Rabbis for human rights, provide explanation and translation of the speakers. Among the speakers, they tell me, was the Mayor of Bethlehem, the Chief Imam of the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian American organizer of the event (I think the group is called Palestinians for Peace and Democracy), and a Rabbi from Rabbis for Human Rights. Only after this long series of introductions and speeches did Ghandi take the podium.

Many of the speakers spoke about Palestinian suffering, the wall, the oppression of Palestinian prisoners, and called for peace to come, peace with dignity and respect. The representative from Rabbis for Human Rights gave a beautiful speech in Hebrew and English and Arabic, calling for mutual compassion for the suffering of Israelis and Palestinians, and asserting the inherent spiritual bonds of Jews, Christians and Muslims in yearning for peace. Ghandi's speech mainly focused on his solidarity with Palestinian suffering and ended with general calls for peace in the region.

I was disappointed by the drift from the intended focus--non-violence and non-violent resistance as a new approach for voicing political demands and working toward peace. When Ghandi spoke in Ramallah, he spoke directly and much more extensively on the importance and efficacy of non-violence, but in the addresses at this event, non-violence was barely mentioned. Even though I did not agree with or feel comfortable with all the claims and approaches of the speeches given, I think there is at least some value in the fact that the rally was focused on the motif of peace, of calling for peace. A will for peace can be powerful--I was only disappointed that the event did not direct this will more forcefully toward the promising new path of nonviolence that (I think) was intended by the organizers.

After the speeches finished, the security guards herded us back off the stage through the crowd and into the Church of the Nativity, where a guide showed Ghandi the place of Jesus's birth, and other key sites. The back into the sirening procession of cars, back to the hotel we departed from. When we arrived back at the hotel, I found Eliyahu sitting at a table with Ghandi and Rav Froman, a charismatic peacemaking Rabbi from the settlement of Takoa. The Green Sheikh and his daughters also joined the circle, and I pulled up a chair to listen to a frank discussion of Israeli and Palestinian suffering and mutual fears, and the importance of spirituality in peacemaking work. After the hubbub and the great show of the evening, I found this small discussion refreshing and hopeful. Everyone listened intently.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

To try to tell the past week in shortform is a shanda, a terrible crime. each day has been so full. but so will this day be, so I should sing it out and say it loud in whatever brief sketches and notes I can.
A week ago, after the Sulha, Eliyahu and I combined forces to host a Third Feast on shabbat afternoon. In the darkening back room of Eliyahu's Nachlaot apartment, neighborhood friends and international spiritual leaders and peacemakers from the Sulha sat in a circle, ate Pomegranates and roasted vegetables and nuts, spoke about their journeys, shabbat, and their struggles with peacemaking. Havdala broke out into dancing and singing--though some of the guests did not know Hebrew, everyone found a way to get into some of the traditional melave malka tunes, with hand percussion and clapping and dancing.
As we started to come down a little bit, Quzulini, a Zulu chief, spiritual leader, and peacemaker from South Africa stepped into the circle and began leading a chant with a bouncing beat. Hu-hm Hu-hm, Huh-hmmmm. Hu-hm Hu-hm, Huh-hmmmm. And then he gave us more parts, for our mouths and our arms and our feet, and a refrain, "One love and happiness!" and solos over it which he cried out in Zulu. This singing and dancing and chanting must have lasted a long time, but I really am not so sure exactly how long. The cicle of us let go of time and held on to the shabbat bride. I just know that by the time we gathered upstairs to bless each other in Hebrew and Arabic and Zulu and English and Gaelic, it was late.
Sunday and Monday I finished my work in the lab--I think and hope that what I put together in the end will be at least a little bit helpful for Viki in her thesis efforts. A lot of the results of the research I have done will not come out for another few weeks or more, after Viki gets back to the lab and can run some followup tests.
Tuesday I went to the tefillin factory in Meah Shearim with Sareet's family, and got a tour of the yearlong process of turning a little tough piece of skin from the back of a cow's neck into perfectly square boxes to house words of love for the divine, to be bound to arms and between eyes. It provided me a rare and much craved opportunity to connect with a bit of the story of one of the many mysterious objects that dance through my life. So much labor and holy intent into one little box. Afterward, I got my first tzitzit, and went home to clean and move out of my apartment.
Wednesday night, I went took a bus out to Givat Hamatos, a caravans-site originally set up as an absorption center for transitioning families. I have already written some notes on this experience which I might post at some point, so I will pass it over for now.

On Thursday I woke with a question that I have never considered before: "What DOES one wear to Ramallah?" I settled on a bandana, a ringer tee-shirt, and a non-descript pair of brown pants. As much as I would have loved to arrived a visible messenger of Jewish understanding and peace, proudly displaying kippah and tzitzit, I knew that this was not the time and not the way--I consider it similar to making sure I am not wearing shorts when I go to Meah-Shearim. I want to be able to connect with those around. I can dress in a way that does not efface or deny my identity, but at the same time is aware of the boundaries of the space and does not push people away immediately. I set off with Eliyahu and a documentary filmaker from New York, and on the way we picked up some Spanish Catholic men on an interfaith mission in Israel, and a peacemaker now living in Jordan. The event in Ramallah was a kick-off demonstration, part of a series of events featuring Arun Ghandi (Ghandi's grandson), who had been brought by several Palestinian groups to advocate non-violence.
We arrived at the park, roughly the size and shape of a football field, with dust instead of grass. Several thousand people were gathered, in and around the park. There was a large crowd around the stage, but there were also crowds gathering in other parts, in and around the field. Everything around me was in Arabic, and I was acutely aware of how little I could understand of my surroundings. There were a few inflammatory signs in English, mainly some distance away from the stage. One proclaimed "Bush=Sharon=Axis of Evil?" As we left, we also saw a banner lofted with huge boldface letters, "KILLERS," next to which was a characature of Sharon and a picture of a Nazi. Approaching the stage, it was immediately apparent that the audience was composed almost entirely of mothers and their children, each holding aloft a framed picture of a teenage boy or young man. When they saw the documentarain, many gathered around her to display their pictures to her camera.
We only stayed for a short period, but I was able to hear some of Arun Ghandi's speech (translated to Arabic as he spoke in English). His message was direct and clear. He expressed compassion for the suffering of the Palestinian people, for their needs and for their demands for rights they do not have. He told the audience, Your message should be direct and clear and it should be peace and it should be non-violence. He then proceeded to speak of previous non-violent resistant efforts, such as his grandfather's work, the civil rights movement in America, and the struggle against aparthied. He brought all of these examples to make a case that non-violence has worked, and can work for the Palestinian people as well.
It is difficult for me to tell, with such limited interaction with audience members, how the message was received. I came expecting a demonstration for nonviolence at which Ghandi was the featured speaker--it seemed instead, although it is hard for me to tell with any certainty, that the event was a political demonstration that happened to have Ghandi speaking about nonviolence as its keynote. I did not get the impression that everyone had gathered with a singular focus, so much as everyone gathered, and Ghandi's message was being brought in to try to direct the gathering. Even if I did not immediately see legions of nonviolence advocates streaming out to spread the message, it is heartening to me that such events are being organized by Palestinian groups, and that voices advocating non-violence are speaking loudly and are being heard by many.

For shabbat I journeyed with Baruch Casey to Bat Ayin. A favorite adjective at this fruity and mystical mountaintop yeshiva is "high"--and that describes my experience succinctly. We bused and hitchiked our way toward the Yeshiva, and then approached the last bit on foot. As we ascended toward the mountaintop cluster of caravans, we stopped to pick ripe red-green figs, dangling so invitingly from their branches, from trees growing along the path. We arrived to find grape-juice making already in process--Yehonatan had picked and squeezed a few bottles by hand, but there was not yet enough to serve to the 40some Yeshiva bachurs and their guests for the shabbat feast that night. So Baruch Casey and I set found a juicer (handpressing is so much better, but we needed to make quite a bit, pretty quickly), and picked an overflowing bucketful of red and green clusters--the giant and glistening beyond even the resemblences depicted in portraits of the bibilical scouts or on grape-juicebottles. By the time we finished, we had just enough time for a quick dip in the natural spring mikvah down the road before kabbalat shabbat. Services and meals were, well, they were high. Intensely meditative, punctuated to the rhtyhm of ecstatic singing and dancing. Yes, at the meals too. Between singing and divre torah, there wasnt a moment for casual conversation--everything was focus, intentional, exhuberant. Shabbat afternoon, Baruch Casey and I took our third trip to the spring (we had taken a wake-up dip first thing in the morning), and climbed into a small opening between the stones, through a narrow passageway toward the source of the spring. Very soon after entering, we were bathed in completely blackness and silence, wading in the shallow run of the stream bellow and trusting blindly in our hands to guide us through ever narrowing and widening passageway. After much blackness, a small spot of sunlight appeared in the distance, and when we reached it we found ourselves in a hig cavern, whose stones were laid (Baruch Casey told me) in the second temple period. A small opening high above lit the cavern, just beyond which the stream began, falling in stready trickle out of the rocks. Deep inside, we could chant and scream at the top of our lungs, and no one could hear us.
The entire shabbat experience had the feeling of being in a secret place, floating high above the world, filled with learning and meditation. What I would imagine the Jewish version of a mystical mountaintop monastary to be. Enchanting, and I know I need to go back.
I also am desperately craving to move in practical directions, to be useful to the world. I have learned, especially this summer, to float and fly. I would like to learn how to get my feet on the ground while keeping my head in the sky.

"And ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation." --KG


"When you love you should not say, "God is in my heart," but rather, I am in the heart of God."--KG

I slipped the straps off
I slid the sandals to the floor
pulled my legs up onto the bed and crossed them into me
leaned back against the breeze of the window
The blessing Casey and I prophesized Khlil Gibran to each other
of work and clothing of buying and giving of love and prayer
Pausing frequently to sit in stillness or to scream
until one scream flung us out the door and down the hill
to a table made out of stones, looking out at the mountain we stood on
rolling into mountains rolling into mountains rolling into mist and sea and setting sun
on the way down, the soles of my feet picked up thorns and brambles and earth
but none of it hurt
and they all came right out and I felt Earth beneath my toes again and we prophesized
that sweet hurt
to know I can take off her sandals
but I am still walking with her feet.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

I need to post and soon,
instead of posting promises to post
my days each day is a day of days
each day an overflowing cup of a day
and so overfull
I am fullon drunk of them
Each day recasts the imaginary kaleidolandscapes of My Life
to be
and I should be sketching these landscapes with what creative little skill I can muster
but now I am drunk on it
and exhausted and ill
on emotional vertigo
so the night will have ice cream and red wine and lauryn hill
and words will come later

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Soon to post on stepping boldly into the land of planlessness and
on a melave malka like no other.
hu-hm, hu-hm-Hu!
In the meantime, attend Chaviva, a recent miracle in my life, on the Sulha she has been helping holy brother and Rodef Shalom Eliyahu put together.
Learn from this woman.
I also welcome, through a little door to the left, Nick, a great renaissance man in my life, now becoming a man of the law.
Look closer, and you will be rewarded.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

--a blessing? Yes, I will give you a blessing.
The enormous hand of the Zulu spiritual leader descends upon my equally enormous kippah.
--You must travel far, to America first, then to South Africa. So you must be safe in your travels. You must have a good heart--a good heart is the most important thing. You should know that what you want is also what everyone around you wants, and what everyone around you wants, you want as well. God bless you.
I did not go to the Sulha to get a blessing from a Zulu spiritual leader, but, thankfully, journeys are seldom so mundanely predictable.
I got only a taste of Sulha. I arrived at the end of the second day, and closing ceremonies were the next morning. But while there was little opportunity to develop life-long relationships or have many intense personal interactions, I did dive in, swim around with much intensity, and open my mouth wide to drink full.
The organizers estimated that, over the three days, something like 4000 holy souls gathered in Gan Shuni, on a hill overlooking a lush northern plain near Benyamina. I journeyed there with Simcha, a dreadlocked talmud scholar turned environmental ecologist/closet macroeconomic theorist who I met at the train station. We arrived after dark, and music was just starting. Despite the immense turnout, the scene was still quite intimate and it took me just minutes to find Sareet, who had come straight from the airport upon making aliyah. She was talking to a man with long hair, a white robe, and a staff (this description actualy could be applied to more than a handful of people at the festival)--who spoke to us in a beautiful combination of Spanish and Hebrew.
A group of women soon came on stage to praise God in Jewish and Muslim and Christian harmonics--the sister of the Zulu spiritual leader, a female rabbi who just got ordained by Rabbi Zalman Shachter-Shalomi (who appeared that night via videotaped message from Boulder), a Muslim woman with a powerful voice, and a woman from a spiritual community of Catholics and Protestants in Ireland, who informed us that her daughter was giving birth at that moment in Europe. Slow chanting gave rise to picked up beats and picked up feets and me dancing wildly hand in hand with beautiful fruity Jewish and Arab guys. Later, a louder band came on, and the concert got shut down by the cops...and the music wove itself into a circle singing songs in Arabic, to darbuka beats. I eventually joined the circle of dancers at the central ring of the circle, arm in arm with Palestinian guys singing and jumping around in free form fashion, only to make way for some virtuoso belly dancers--male and female.
This morning Sareet woke me just before the sun broke the horizon, and I said selichot for the first time. Rav Cook has been teaching me that selichot are not shamefilled or necessarily always sad. I looked out on the fields to the horizon and the rising light and wanted to be closer: tshuva.
Afterward, I slept deeply until the closing ceremonies--the niggun we sange is still dancing in my head as I type.
I felt so gratified to help whatever little I could--they asked me to take the garbage to the dumpster, and I was practically overjoyed. I rolled along pushing the wheelbarrow full of waste and singing--this is how much I have been yearning to be useful.
I got to have one amazing conversation with the daughter of the Green Sheikh, who wove me a bracelet while we were talking. Anyone wondering about whether a fifteen-year-old can be spiritually or politically aware should meet and learn from this holy woman.

I journeyed home to Jerusalem with Chaviva, a new friend and great miracle in my life here. We rode with an Arab man travelling with his sons from Acco to Tel Aviv for his friend's art opening. He saw the sage I had tucked behind my ear, and we at it together. He told us about his travels, and I got to hear a little more about Tunis--I was in a village where everything is white. Everything. Even the streets are paved white!--
This man had a kind of hoping that knew, rather than wanted.
--when there is peace, I will take a train like this from here to Amman.
--but there is now peace with Jordan. You can go to Amman--a woman across from him suggested.
--yes, but when we have peace, I will take a train from here and be in Amman in a few hours.
Labwork wrapping up, A planned vision of me in South Africa metamorphasizing into a great wide open unknown. Shabbat. Coming.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

note: Neruda and Sulha were separate posts, separate thoughts, not to be taken as a unit...
eventually, of couse, we will be using everything

here I go

Preguntareis por que su poesia
no nos habla del sueno, de las hojas,
de los grandes volcanes de su pais natal?

Venid a ver la sangre por las calles,
venid a ver
la sangre por las calles,
venid a ver la sangre
por las calles!
--Pablo Neruda, from the end of "Explico Algunas Cosas", 1936-1937
read on the bus today on the way to the lab.

no, amor mio.
No vamos a perdernos
este sueno
haremos nuestra
la vida verdadera,
pero tambien
los suenos
todo los suenos
--Pablo Neruda, from the end of "Oda a un Cine del Pueblo" 1956

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

wedding last night.
I expected to see two adults under the chuppah, transformed and somehow much older than I had ever seen them. But no, actually quite the opposite, they looked so much younger. I expected them to be radiating joy and passion, and I was surprised to find humble and powerful expressions of Yir'ah--some holy mix of awe and fear and apprehension and love. I had this image of marriage as proceeding from some ultimate readiness and complete certainty--now that seems almost silly. Who is ever completely ready for anything? What can we do but step humbly and boldly, with Yir'ah, into creation?
Today and tomorrow and tomorrow's tomorrow will be full. Finishing labwork. Givat Hamatos. Sulha.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

I have little to show for my past month of work in the lab here. this despite working full hours, soliciting advice as frequently as possible from my mentors here, and following their counsel closely.  I could put blame on inadequate equipment, on my own inexperience or carelessness, but such an exercise in bitterness does not suit me right now.  I hope  I can contribute something small at least to my lab's research before I fly the scene.I am, in any case taking in what I can from the practice of working here-  Jerusalem puts wings on my wrists and fins on the sides of my feet. The humble practice of living, of learning to be with myself and to do for others, sates me full here. 
 I ran all the way to the lab today and yesterday. The return route I still cannot run in full because there is more steep uphill, but it is coming. I thought that by now I would be cruising 50miles of commute between my feet every week--but sometimes expectations need to be humbled and recalibrated. I know my body better now.

Monday, August 02, 2004

You will not read here the numerous initial attempts at this entry. My failed attempts at narration have left me fresh and disoriented--like one who has just woken, refreshed to a new day, knowing they have just completed an enormous dreamjourney, complete and seemingly coherent as it happened. But attempts at retelling reveal it to be incomprehensible, untellable without reconstruction of the newly conscious and logical mind. So I will attempt nonetheless to repiece the story although i know it will not be as it happened. it can only be as it is happening--the state of the union in my head.

enough ramble. lets try again.

Thursday night. Boogie. The dance floor, usually bouncing with dancers in their own private movement worlds, is carpetted with sitters watching the stage. watching the hands on the stage flinging themselves into the air above the little metal Darbouka drum. Hands and head, jerking upward, away from the drum as frequently as toward it, as if the man who possessed them had surrendered control of his parts to some other power. After a moment, we got hit by the voice that had brought the crowd to their seats. Enormous, powerful, slow, wailing, Shlomor Bar floored us too. Until the next song when the beat and the voice and the flailing head and hands and the voice and the voice of shlomo bar lifted everyone of the floor. sweatsoaked, bouncing, exhausting, ecstatic dancing. For Shlomo Bar, a performance is not a performance. A performance is a moment of prophecy, a moment of connection of intrumentmusicianaudianceandthedivine. That's how he plays--like someone trying to channel a connection so beyond himself. After the concert and more dancing to the DJ, some breathless wandering landed me in a quiet room full of light and meditation mats. There I found my neighbor--a musician and director of a new yeshiva--giving a small performance connecting tisha beav and tu beav. At the end, I received an invitation from a quiet guy with bright open eyes to some sort of freeform celebration of Tu Beav.

So I went. I found a circle of beautiful meditating Israeli neohippyish folk, mostly a bit older than me, meditating in a circle in the park. Coming out fo the meditation, some guitars appeared we started singing some songs about ahava. Someone lit some insence, and a smiling fellow in white handed out cards bearing the declaration "Ahavat Chinam." And then we were standing. With an enormous banner behind us, declaring "Halev shel haolam, Neeftach." And then we were singing dancing into the streets. Handing out Ahava cards to passing cars and tourists on ben yehuda. The perfomance element, almost a demonstration, I definitely had not anticipated--but I was ready to get a little tripped out and get into it. After tisha beav, I have been reflecting with much readiness on bringing some senseless love into the city. Some people were amused and some people joined boy took out his flute and started playing with the guitarists. Other people were not ready for this tripped out offering of love. I made sure to pick up the discarded and tornup "Ahavat Chinam" cards--they are an important lesson that love needs to be delivered in many different forms and manifestations--because no route will be mat-im to everyone. We danced our way through the center of the city, all the way to the old city, into Jaffa Gate, where the police subtly herded us and our dangerous messages of love to a space just outside Jaffa Gate. Sunset came, and we sat in a circle and read the shir hashirim, the book that rabbi akiva calls the holy of holies of the bible.

As we were wrapping up, a new group of people arrived and merged with us--a few of them had been at my Seuda Shlishit on Shabbat, and had mentioned to me they would be coming. This new group of beautiful souls brought me and quite a few of the others deep into the old city to see two Sufi Sheikhs. When we arrived, we were greated by the enormous smiling Green Sheikh. We packed into the small square room, the Green Sheikh took a seat and began to talk to us. He was wearing a big green wool hat, out of which sprung a great mane of a beard. He sat atop a small chair, an enormous figure, robed in several billowing robes--a green one, and an even larger white one over it, both of which rounded his figure atop the chair. As we took our seats, the call to prayer entered from a nearby tower, and he closed his eyes toward it. Then he began...I would love to try to reconstruct what he said, but I am pretty sure most of it will come out incomprehensible...We are in a greet time of meeting, he told us, a meeting of meetings, in this great moment of the call to prayer....We, plants and birds, fish and animals and humans, Jews and Muslims and Buddhists and Christians are all the zero, and we are approaching HIM, the one. When the zero is meeting the one from the right side, we make the perfect number ten. (the Sheikh smiles and laughs)...we can only walk so long on the earth before we fall down. we are weak, so we fight. ...but when the zero is meeting the one, there are no differences between us... I take care of you and you take care of me, I love you and you love me, I am you, and you are me....Why were we created? He created us for Him, and he created us for ourselves. For Him, he created us so that he can be with his love. We sometimes ignore Him and reject Him, but is always loving us. For us, he created us so that we can love him....

I can't reconstruct this well at all, but as he spoke I could think of little but shir hashirim, the holyofholies lovesong of the God and humanity. The man who had organized our visit arrived late, as did the second Shiekh, the host of the event, whose wore a kind of quiet humility that made him as enormous as the Green Sheikh. The organizer urged the Sheikhs to tell us about their background--the Green Sheikh told us about growing up in his home beside the women's side of the Kotel, playing and getting lost and scared in David's tunnels. The hosting Sheikh told of his family, the long line of Sheikhs that had preceded him, who had arrived from Uzbekistan 400 hundred years ago. He showed us photos framed about the room of his father, grandfather and greatgrandfather, the three most recent Sheikhs before him, and then he brought in his son, a quietly smiling with welcoming eyes, who will be the next Sheikh after he dies.

After they had finished sharing, they brought us down to a mosque below--an inimate archshaped room, covered in many layers of carpets. We sat against the walls in a circle, and the Green Sheikh began to lead a meditation. First chanting in long tones that trilled in the scale of sephardi nusash melodies. Again. and again. and again. Time ceased to be sliceable, and started to pulse and ebb and flow, no longer resolvable. Then everything went dark. For a long time, nothing was visible but a few faint white folds of the Sheikh's robe. Some candles lit, and a distant light came on and streamed a bit through the door. We rose to our feet, and the pace of the chant picked up. In the candlelight I could see the enormous round figure of the Sheikh, arms outstretched, moving slowly around the swaying circle. Chanting, faster and faster, turned into a fast throat breathing, which turned into a call in response in Arabic. The circle, now standing, drew closer and closer and closer inward. And the chanting faster and faster and closer. When the chanting had formed itself into words during the call in response I became silent. I remained in the circle, with all my intentions of prayer and meditation toward hashem, but not ready to give myself to words of another worship that I did not understand. I prayed for an open heart, to be one in this space so inentionally created for love and new connection, my fears of avodah zara subsided, so that I could focus my prayer fully toward hashem while being present and part of the chanting about me.

I walked back to nachlaot with Eliyahu, the organizer, and Chavivah. Singing and flying about the sidewalks, unable to bring words to our experience.

This account is so crude compared to the seamless grace and beauty of the days they return to...maybe i will return to them again, and have a new vision...until then, at least i have put down some rough notes.