Thursday, March 05, 2009
Light of the Torah
"I believe that everything happens for a reason," said the bearded Haredi Jewish man to my left.
The flight was full out of JFK on Sunday. Full of other Haredim and their many, many small children wearing thick glasses. The girls wore thick stockings and skirts. The boys wore their hair in small side tendrils and kippot. And me. Me, with a crazy pile of hair on my head, designer glasses, jeans and a colorful scarf that gives me away as one who travels regularly to Israel. Me, kind of Jewish, but not really Jewish in the sense of understanding the man to my left and why he filled his every rambling monologue to me with scripture. Jew-ish by comparison to these Jews, who do not think that G-d will recognize converts or mixed blooded Jews in the next life, or, worst of all, both.
As I do, I followed the bouncing ball, even though the guy to my left thoroughly freaked me out. I gathered that he took me to be fully Jewish, and that it felt it his job to lead my little Jewish soul to the seat of the Jewish Orthodoxy. He even said that he felt that G-d had put us on this plane together for him to share the light of the Torah with me. I listened carefully, nodded and smiled as he quoted from the Torah and Talmud. I nodded and smiled like a good Jewish girl should, I suppose, while inwardly noting his errors in argument along the way. I also noticed that he didn't speak Hebrew conversationally. Only Biblical Hebrew. Deep down, I found this annoying, even if my Hebrew skills are elementary at best right now.
Two hours later, I was nodding and smiling and the plane had still not left the ground due to a major snow storm that had just blown in from the south. Four hours later, after a screaming match broke out on the plane and two hot-blooded Israeli men were escorted off, we were still on the ground.
Four hours on the ground, trapped in a metal tube with 250 extremely disgruntled Haredim is enough to make anyone a little crazy...
I subsequently spent the night on the floor of the airport. The following morning, the snow was so bad that no flights were going out, and 250 Haredim were screaming bloody murder for the airline to bring them and their children some Kosher food.
I couldn't help but watch and marvel at how G-d's suppossedly "most chosen" of The Chosen People could behave en masse in such an atrocious manner. They were screaming in Yiddish and Hebrew at anyone who would listen. They were loud, tearing up the bathrooms, leaving trash everywhere and otherwise perpetuating a scene of utter disarray by pummeling the bilingual workers of Delta Airlines.
To make a long story very short, I'm still not in Tel Aviv, but I am hoping that my stuff is. I was bumped to a Wednesday night flight out and spent a few days with a dear friend in NYC. But because everything happens for a reason, when I arrived to get on last night's flight, I was told that I was never given a seat. Looking around at the new batch of Haredim, who were already pitching fits due to the overbooked flight, I smiled and patiently asked the stressed-out Delta worker to do what she can for me.
Another night in NYC was spent (without my baggage), and it looks like I have a Business Class seat out to Tel Aviv tonight. A car is coming for me. It's a good thing.
Because everything happens for a reason, hopefully this means that I am on my way. And, to soothe the concerns of many, have no fear that I will be crossing over and become orthodox any time soon.