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Mauro in Israel Day 5: A Sabbath Mosh Pit

Posted on August 7 2010 10:00 am
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Hasidic Jews know how to get down. Tonight, I went to a Sabbath service at a synagogue and they put traditional church services to shame. They were singing very bland songs in Hebrew and then they erupted. A drum starts keeping the beat and the next thing you know, people are cramped, dancing in circles, accidentally bouncing into each other in a very narrow pathway between the seats. And they danced as if it was a holiday, not something they do every Friday. I was going to start flashing the metal sign while doing the Skank dance but I’m a bit claustrophobic.

This morning we went to the On the Seam Museum that showcases art about controversial issues. To anyone doubting Israel’s merits as a democracy, check this place out. It had pieces highly critical of the Israeli destruction of both illegal Palestinian homes and the settlements in Gaza. Contrary to the common narrative the conflict just comes down to both sides being stubborn and close-minded, I’ve found Israelis to be extremely critical of their government, eager to point out that they don’t find their country to be perfect. This museum shows the self-criticism that is so central to Israeli society that few seem to recognize.

We also hung out at the Yehuda market and volunteered for a program helping people bring their bags to their vehicle. This reflects upon another point I’ll surely re-visit: How important duty to your country and those around you (including Muslims!) is a major part of the Israeli identity.

One more thing: If you’re enjoying this series, please post it on blogs and send it to your friends. Stand With Us has been very generous to me (and NRB) and the least we can do is help make their hefty investment worth it by getting these reports out to the world.

Tomorrow we’re touring the Jerusalem mountains and Ein Karem and have some free time. And by free time I mean time already booked for outrageously long naps.

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