Sunday, March 29, 2009

Story Time

From Untitled Album


OK, I'll break the silence. But this one requires your feedback.

Being a small time traveler - I've had the experience of davening in interesting places. It's really a thrill for me, to be so different from the rest of the room. Also, I always wonder what type of impression I'm leaving on the people around me. I care to know what they think.

Here are two personal experiences:

#1
Before catching a bus to Mitzpe Ramon in Beer Sheva, my friend and I chose the perfect spot to pray under the tent of some restaurant. We picked a table in the corner away from the eaters and began. Sometime in the middle, a man comes out and puts a plate of felafel, pita, salad and french fries on our table. He must have made a mistake, I thought. When I finished, I brought the plate back to him saying I didn't order anything to which he insisted the food was for us - from him. Hmmm... So, I'd like to think we impressed him with our 'spiritualness'. But we were in Israel and he's obviously seen people pray before, so what difference were we to him? Or maybe it was just that we looked like starving seminary girls and he had pity on us.


#2
I was stuck in the bus station bright and early one morning, in Memphis, Tennessee. Surrounded by genuine southern folk, I was actually a little bit nervous to pray. What if they decide to lynch me or something? Then I reasoned with myself that, Hashem protects you while doing a mitzvah. So I prayed, all the while being stared down by the man sitting next to me with a cowboy hat, long black pony and a mustache. As I put my siddur away very casually, the man sitting next to me finally works up the nerve to ask: "That wasn't the Koran you were studyin' there was it?"


Well, whats your story?

74 comments:

Crawling Axe said...

You are a time traveler? And the man had a pony with himself on the bus? :)

I don’t have any strange davening stories. The weirdest place I ever davened at was outside of a gas station somewhere between New Orleans and Florida. Some woman came to us and told us that we need to take a better care of our children. I think she was referring to my rabbi’s kids, who were doing a balancing act, but it was still a little strange.

But recently, while my lab was moving to a new building, one of the movers saw me walk by with a box in my hands and shouted at me from the closing elevator in New England accent: “Salam Aleikum”.

The Real Shliach said...

About a month after 9/11 I was davening on a plane and when I was finished the woman in front of me turned around, cleared her throat, and (I figured she was going to scream at me or something) said "Thank you, I felt much safer the whole time you were praying."

le7 said...

Hmm, when I was flying back from Israel, I had a layover in Turkey. We ended up having a 4 hour delay.

It was getting late so I davened in the middle of the smoke filled Turkish airport while being stared down by multiple women in Hijabs. I guess that made me appear suspicious? After that I was selected for extra screening - go figure...

sarabonne said...

I was on the subway davening and I could see in the reflection that there was a man standing over, looking at my siddur. I didn't glance up until he was getting off the subway and saw his "tzahal" army bag. The man was Israeli.

Anonymous said...

What where you doing in memphis!? I've run into a building to daven mincha real fast only to look around me to realize i was in the back corner of a motorcycle, dive bar.

J

Sef said...

CA - yeh, them southerners can't travel anywhere without their pets.

le7 - multiple women in hijabs vs. hics.... I can't decide which is scarier.

J - I was traveling for fun!

Anonymous said...

Memphis isnt usually one of those "fun" places, unless being robbed is considered a good time :)

J

Sef said...

J - Yep, I agree with you completely. I went traveling with my friend, who was dying to go to Tennessee while I really wanted to go to Florida...It worked out. Elvis is cool.

sarabonne said...

re. Elvis-Long live the king! (sorry, I had to say it.)

The Real Shliach said...

Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu V'Rabbeinu Melech Hamoshiach L'olam Va'ed!

(ditto)

Anonymous said...

wow, dying to go to tennessee? I've heard of dying of tennessee but never to go to tennessee. yes elvis is nice but marty robbins and Johnny Cash are the real deal. and if tennessee, then why not nashville?

J

Crawling Axe said...

Oh yeah, TRS’s story reminded me: when I was about 13 and fry (and an atheist actually), I was on a plane from NYC to Louisiana through some connection city (I remember it being Birmingham, AL, but it doesn’t make sense). The landing strip was frozen, so the plane was circling around. Everyone was very worried, and then we started getting really heavy turbulence. My mom asked me “to pray”, so I covered my eyes and said kriyas Shma. The lady sitting next to us stopped hyperventilating and just stared at me.

Crawling Axe said...

TN had the heaviest traffic when I was traveling through it in my 17’ U-Haul truck, from New Orleans to Boston. Driving downhill in a truck filled with stuff in heavy traffic and super-hot weather is always fun. But, TN was the first civilized Southern state I encountered (after LA, MS and AL), so it was a welcome sight (not as welcome as Virginia, but still).

Sef said...

Sara/TRS - Well, now that you brought up the topic. "I heard Memphis is a very mishichist town"

J - We only had about 4 days to travel, coming from atlanta. We visited in Chattanooga, Whitwell, Memphis and Nashville. Stopping in Nashville wasn't part of the plan though, we missed our early morning bus and had to have a layover there.

CA - one time I said shema like that when I was in my moms rickity junk vehicle, which has the horrible habit of stallling, on the freeway. You didn't have to pass through Georgia? They're pretty civilized over here too.

Crawling Axe said...

Nope, I went West of GA, even though I wanted to spend Shabbos in Atlanta. Yes, I know, GA, Carolinas, and some parts of Florida are civilized.

Well, Atlanta is still a ghetto dump, but so is most of upstate NY — at least there isn’t the shocking disgusting barbaric hopelessness of Mississippi and Louisiana.

Crawling Axe said...

And I loved Virginia. Just driving through it. (But then, I am a Civil History nerd.)

le7 said...

Wow you kids sure had fun. (How am I going to last the next few weeks?)

Nice to see some activity over here...

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I lived in mississippi for 3 years (stationed on the airforce base thank G-d) it is the land that time (and everything good and nice) forgot. Tn is a nice place, definatly not a place to live really but nice. i think ive heard the same thing about memphis.

J

sarabonne said...

Hmm, I say you should all move to Oregon. Everything is pleasant there. (If you like rain.)

Crawling Axe said...

I only need two requirements where to live:

1) Chabad minyan (which I don’t even have here, in Boston),
2) a University with Neuroscience department.

Crawling Axe said...

(And it has to be north of Maison-Dixon line. Thought that was obvious.)

The Real Shliach said...

CA: When are you moving to Minnesota?

Crawling Axe said...

Iy"H never, due to the imminent and speedy coming of Mashiach and resulting improvement of climate in Eretz Yisroel, allowing me to move there, but in a more general sense, whenever I am married, in receipt of offer to work in MN and done with Boston (iy"H, in that order).

Sef said...

Sarabonne - thanks but no thanks. I think I'll stick with the more lively states. Rainy days are good only in the winter.

I have to live somewhere with a large population of Jews. I thrive off of people. Yeaahh, Atlanta is ghetto ... and here I thought I was the only one in the world to think that.

sarabonne said...

large population of Jews-yes, that's why I'm trying to pursuade everyone to move there. Oregon is lovely but for that one flaw, I have no one to talk to!

le7 said...

Well if all of us BBers agreed to move there at the same time after we're married, I'd consider it.

The Real Shliach said...

You mean, if we all get jobs...

le7 said...

Yeah true. Sarah can you hook us all up?

Cheerio said...

is it cool if i just come visit in the summer from California?

Cheerio said...

re:davening. not quite a story per se, but here it is: i feel more comfortable davening on public transport in america than in israel, because in israel, i'm always afraid someone is going to tell me i'm doing something wrong!

The Real Shliach said...

re: visiting- scarily enough, my whole family is planning on doing that too! (not from CA, but still...)

sarabonne said...

its hard to hook you all up with jobs when I don't quite live there myself. I'll speak to my people and have them call your people, yes?
cheerio-THAT WOULD BE AMAZING!!!!!
trs-you're visiting the cousins?
and CA,I believe OHSU has a nueroscience dept. and we have a chabad minyan.

The Real Shliach said...

Such is the plan.

Anonymous said...

I'll second the visiting from california! oregon sounds...rainy.

J

Cheerio said...

rainy can be good... but i like to mix it up with a little sun in february and fog in july, san francisco style :)

Sef said...

Ok, everyone go to Oregon.... I think I'll go to Australia.

Crawling Axe said...

I think Oregon is my kind of place. Mountains, forest, ocean, rain, cold weather. Everything I can dream of (obviously, from geographic point of view only) in golus. I bet it doesn’t even have huge flying cock-roaches.

The Real Shliach said...

Hello, sweetiepie, there's a severe shortage of Kosher restaurants there-is Garbanzo's even open any more?

Sef said...

TRS - you mean in aussie land?

The Real Shliach said...

Sef-would I refer to you as "sweetiepie"? I think not.

I was talking about Portland of course.

sarabonne said...

Sef-we have rain but Aussi has heat waves.
TRS, your getting quite affectionate with the name calling, its producing some funny results.
CA, I'm writing you down. A contract will be sent shortly confirming your decision.
Cheerio-I already know you're living in Berkely but you have the obligation to visit me henceforth.

sarabonne said...

And true, we don't have Garbonzos but Albertsons has a kosher deli.

The Real Shliach said...

How about a good bakery?

sarabonne said...

we have kosher baked goods too, and if nothing else, Rebbetzin Chaiton is excellent.

Sef said...

TRS - Well I wasn't sure. Because here I am learning so much about you, I don't know what to expect anymore.

Sarabone - I love heat. I shrivel up and dissolve on cold rainy icky days.

sarabonne said...

witch! lol

The Real Shliach said...

bakery: kosher baked goods, like shtuff with preservatives? yucky.

Sef: Expect the unexpected! (that was totally expected)

Sara: which witch?

sarabonne said...

don't be so picky, and like I said, Mrs. Chaiton's an excellent baker.
I was referring to wicked witch of oz. She doens't do too well with water...

The Real Shliach said...

Picky? I just want to feed my family healthily...maybe I should open a bakery there? Anyone have 100,000 to open a Breadsmith franchise?

I know. It was a joke. ha.

sarabonne said...

YOU TOTALLY SHOULD. And sell patrami sandwhiches.

I figured it was a joke right after I resonded. hm. ha.

The Real Shliach said...

You have a hundred grand for me?

I'd love to sell pastrami sandwiches, but not in a Breadsmith franchise. Maybe you and your husband open a deli next to my store?

Sef said...

Sarabonne: ...!!!!!! ah!

TRS: sure thing!

Crawling Axe said...

TRS, real Chassidim don’t eat at restaurants (Mendy’s is an exception… and not much of a restaurant anyway) and import all food from NY anyway. Since apparently now we are like Aimish, at least let’s keep up the appearances.

There is a reason why Chassidus started in Belarus/Poland, not in Paris.

Crawling Axe said...

Sef, there is a good reason to believe that when Mashiach comes, Eretz Yisroel will have normal climate again. I.e., like Russia.

The Real Shliach said...

Sef: Sounds like a plan.

CA: Like, whatever.

re: Russia: normal is boring

Crawling Axe said...

Russian climate is exciting. Just read Likkutei Dibburim. As a proud Minnesotan, you must certainly agree.

The Real Shliach said...

Did anyone ever tell you, CA, that you're very cute?

Crawling Axe said...

Not since I started wearing the beard.

The Real Shliach said...

aderabe!

btw, everyone go check out the latest impersonator installment right here on BB

Sef said...

CA - Haha, nooo not exactly. I heard that the weather would be pleasant - like 70 degrees F. all year round.

What defines normal weather as normal?

The Real Shliach said...

speaking as a Minnesotan, I would love 70 degrees all year round.

Crawling Axe said...

TRS: When I am looking for shidduch, I’ll have them call you.

Veni. Vidi. Occupi.

Sef: Normal weather is such weather that is not boring. It has seasons. A the end of winter, the spring is welcome, since you’re tired of cold weather. Then, when summer comes, you enjoy the heat. Then, when autumn comes, you enjoy the cooling down. Then, when winter comes, you enjoy the menchlach weather, full of stoic, grandiose beauty of frozen fields and icicles on the trees.

California weather is most decidedly unnatural. That’s why people in CA smile all the time. It’s unnatural for people to smile all the time. When I meat a Californian (who is usually wearing shorts, which is another unnatural thing), I always want to offer him a lemon.

The Real Shliach said...

Excellent. I'm always happy to help.

Crawling Axe said...

I present to you normal weather.

Crawling Axe said...

speaking as a Minnesotan, I would love 70 degrees all year round.

Hashem’s Chessed is associated with snow.

The Real Shliach said...

gehennom shel sheleg? no thanks

Crawling Axe said...

Well, that’s where I am going. But I was talking about “like a cooling snow on harvest day”, “His garments are white as snow”, “there is no left side in Atik”, “Atik cools down the judgements of z"a”.

So, snow = rachamim. There is no river of snow, but there is a river of fire (which feels like a highway in Los Angeles in the middle of summer during a traffic hour).

Sef said...

CA - OK, you make a valid point. But hey, Californians aren't THAT smiley. We're just relaxed people that are trying to enjoy life, is that a crime? People in Georgia smile much more then in California. They'll smile at me bright and early in the morning while I'm still trying to wake up. Then to make it worse they'll say "hi, how are you?" as if this stranger REALLY cares to know how my day is going so far......We don't do that in L.A.

le7 said...

CA - The beard thing made me sad!

To the rest of you: Gosh I need to get internet...

Crawling Axe said...

Sef — who said some Southerners aren’t worse? I couldn’t stand their vulgar sappiness the whole seven years I lived there. No wonder they drink sweet tea in the South (and by “sweet tea” I mean adding some tea to a glass of sugar).

My point is: there is more to enjoying life than smiling and happiness. Tension is a part of reality (which is something much of modern Jewish music lacks, by the way). Not depression, but tension.

le7 — why? I don’t want people telling me I am cute. And I always wanted a beard when I was a child. Just had a momentary lapse of judgment in my appikorsus years. Btw, all Jewish little kinderlach smile when they see me. Goyishe kids usually cry.

le7 said...

Well the way you typed it made it seem sad.

But you make NY kids cry and Y kids smile? Interesting.

Crawling Axe said...

A Jew should not be sad.

New York kids or nit Yiddish kids?

Yeah, they are usually scared by the beard. It’s not even that big. I think they sense their parents’ awkwardness from seeing me. The kids of my colleagues (who are relaxed around me) are actually interested in me, because I look different.

Sef said...

CA - Ah! I think you're the first person I've heard talk about the south like that....FINALLY... For 7 months I've felt like the only person in the world to not like the happiness and pleasantries of the south..It's all so fake.

You're right about the Jewish music too.

Moshe said...

I will have to remember to come back heer and post a story, no time now. remind me ok?
Its the one about the bar mitzva in the woods.