Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Two crazy chicken stories and the most amazing Jerusalemite I know (quite a few of them here, actually...)

When I was in Jerusalem volunteering for three months, my friend introduced me to Shabbat meals at the Machlis family. They are somewhat of a legend in Jerusalem, especially among backpackers, hippies, searching souls and all sorts of crazy people of the type I love so much.

That day was one of my last times, towards the end of my stay in Jerusalem. Rabbi's wife, Hennie, is a great cook, and made tons of chicken for the crowd.

A couple of American yeshiva students got up to leave early (already making themselves noticeable). When they walked by our table, one of them took a piece of chicken with his hands from a common plate, waved this dripping greasy treat above the heads of unsuspecting Dutch backpackers, and put it into his POCKET. You know, the black suit pocket. And left through the front door.

My neighbour at the table was a Canadian, I think a convert to Judaism. She gasped in horror and said to the Dutch couple, who were frenetically trying to find out how much of the grease had ended up on their shoulders: "Oh no! This is SO AMERICAN! We never do this! I mean, do we, we never do this?! OMG, this is SO American!!!"

Here is the link to the Machlis family. I have left a comment in a guest book, no.90.:

The same friend who told me about Machlises once had a visitor in for coffee. She had met him two weeks earlier on the streets of the Old City and invited him for a Shabbat meal. He was wearing the same notorious black-suit-and-hat outfit as in the previous story, but she mentioned he didn't look Jewish. He said he was. In any case, he never showed up. So when she met him again, she invited him in for coffee and they talked some. He wasn't wearing the black habit any longer, but explained it by the fact he was renting a room on the Mt. of Olives, and it wasn't so cool for him to walk looking Jewish there. And after a while still he said he wasn't Jewish but was thinking of converting.

"Oh, really... Well, we have a lot of Jewish men who are marrying non-Jewish women, so it would be awesome if you jumped into the pool with us." Yes, she's always that direct, and I love her for that. There are two things you shouldn't mention in a conversation with her, though, Jewish men being with non-Jewish women - and cruelty to animals, in any form. If you do, you wake a volcano!

So they chatted some about the yeshiva he could go to, and she said she'd introduce him to the rabbis, and maybe they let him study there already now, and it was all very pleasant, until he came to the subject of learning Arabic.

"And why would you want to do that?"

A long and strange explanation followed, the details of which are lost and irrelevant, but he needed it for some project of his, because, you see -

"... I am the MESSIAH".


"And I have to rebuild the Temple, and restore the animal sacrifices..."

"ANIMAL SACRIFICES??!!" Now, remember what I told you about animals...

"Until we realize no animal sacrifices are needed the temple will NEVER be built!!!!!!"

"Yes, we need to, because it is very important" and he went on with his point of view for a while, and said, "Because, you see, I have been doing it..."

"You... You have been doing it?! With - with what, rats, mice??"

"No, chicken..."

"You have been doing it with CHICKEN??" (On the Mount of Olives?)

"... Yes, and every time I do it, I feel very close to God, it is such a unique experience!" You don't know what you've been missing, in other words...