A great was awaiting me and my friend last Friday night: Rabbi Mordechai Machlis was back from New York where his wife Henny is still undergoing medical treatment.
Not too many people showed up for the first Shabbat meal and it was actually quite cozy sitting in the Machlis living – room. However, it is never boring because you usually see quite some characters. 🙂
My friend and I didn’t expect the meal to last until after midnight because we were planning on going to chassidic Tishes in the nearby Mea Shearim. It turned out that, at 1am, we were a bit late for a Tish. When we finally got to Mea Shearim, we still saw a lot of chassidic families walking up and down Mea Shearim Street. The weather was nice and warm and it didn’t look like there are Tishes going on. The Shomrei Emunim door was open but we didn’t hear any Niggunim and thus didn’t sneak inside. I heard that the Jerusalem Shomrei Emunim Rebbe had dedicated a special Tish due to the Yahrzeit of his father. However, the Yahrzeit took place before last week’s Shabbat.
Even if there is no Tish taking place in Mea Shearim, the atmosphere is still incredible. You see families walking through the neighbourhoods and it is so peaceful. It is such a big difference to secular neighbourhoods. I have a rather long way to walk from home to Mea Shearim. First I have to walk up Keren Hayesod Street, pass the busy Ben Yehudah Street downtown and then enter Strauss Street leading me to Kikar Shabbat (Shabbat Place). Here, you find the two haredi neighbourhoods of Ge’ulah and Mea Shearim right next to each other.
What you don’t really see in Mea Shearim are green spots such as parks. You also don’t find benches to sit on. In Bnei Brak you do but not so in Mea Shearim. I think that local residents don’t want any people to gather and another issue is modesty. People just don’t sit around in public and the visitor is forced to walk. 🙂
I always enjoy the peaceful Shabbat atmosphere in haredi neighbourhoods. As soon as I walk down towards King George Street in order to go home, I don’t feel that it is Shabbat. Drunks are screaming, you hear loud disco music and cars are driving. Shabbat seems to bore people and they prefer going out and searching for action. What I saw near the bell park is an obviously Jewish Israeli woman getting into a car with an Arab guy. The woman was drunk and dancing wildly before she disappeared inside the car. If this is the action people are looking for, well, I am sorry but I am not joining this madness.
Many people always look down on religious Jews and think that they don’t have any pleasure in life but what people forget is “how Haredim actually look at secular Jews and their behaviour”.