Began with a study session on Jerusalem itself; the city. After than came an experience I never would have thought I’d…have (and which may or may not in fact have been all that good an idea): we were sent off to various Jerusalem neighborhoods to find someone — a stranger — and ask them questions about themselves, their opinions about living in Jerusalem and Israel, and various other things. Really? Really.
[DDS] and I chose French Hill, described as “a comfortable upper middle class neighborhood with many academics and Anglos due to its proximity to the University.”
We took the bus. It was about a 30 minute ride through a series of fascinating neighborhoods. Early on we passed the Great Synagogue of Jerusalem…through Mea She’arim, which yielded views of black hats of all descriptions. The people-watching was fabulous. All sizes, shapes, and colors…We heard some English and struck up brief conversations.
Almost no one paid cash for the fare, as we had. Most people seemed to have smart cards, with readers on poles inside the bus. One older lady had trouble with hers, so a little boy, maybe about 10, helped to show her how it worked. A moment later someone else had the same problem. The kid got up again and helped that guy as well. When in doubt about technology, ask a kid.
We actually did manage to find someone to interview, who wasn’t overtly offended by our request, and whose answers were friendly and insightful. An American from an observant family in the states, her reason for moving to Israel boiled down to, “I had a lot of questions about Gd, and it took living here to get comfortable with the idea that there are no answers.”
Our next errand was to pick up assigned snacks for our next group study and schmooze the following day. We had been tasked to procure roasted cashews and milk chocolate. Mission accomplished on Ben Yehuda, a pedestrian shopping mall and tourist heaven.
Although the idea of heading out into a city to interview a stranger was
terrifying enough to give one pause, after that part was over it was nice to finally have some time to ourselves to wander around a little, shop, chill, and watch the people.