November 21, 2018

Live Jews Walking

Cigarette butts, old candy wrappers, dirty napkins on the ground. Above, Jews, Jews, Jews, lots of Jews, walking, smoking, laughing. First day of Chol Hamoed, there’s a breezy, late afternoon glow. I’m sipping Turkish coffee at a café on Shenkin Street in Tel Aviv and I’m surrounded by a sea of Jewish humanity. There are Jews in caftans, Jews in bleached jeans, Jews with Michael Jackson T-shirts, Jews with big jewelry, with strollers, with spiked heels, with sandals, blonde Jews, one black Jew with a kippah, Jews with fanny packs, one with payos, little Jews with pacifiers, bald teenage Jews. Sounds of Betach! Nachon! Young Jews with diamonds on their cheeks, female Jews arm in arm, a Jew on a moped riding the sidewalk, another handing out Rabbi Na Na Na Nachman leaflets, Oriental music competing with Green Day and with a lone guitarist playing a modern version of “Shalom Aleichem.” Jews with pink skirts and Jews with jeans out of fashion, a Jew with a price tag still on her turquoise dress, a Mizrahi Jew with a disco hairdo, constant cries of “b’emet?” two 8-year-old girls walking together, not a single Jew in a suit and tie, the distant sound of an ambulance siren, cellphones hanging around necks, a red poster with the words “Coke sucker,” 1,000 conversations that aren’t about Gaza or Sharon, no one handing out parking tickets, café chairs and tables out of order — protruding out on the sidewalk like a jagged border on a map, Jews with crutches, one in a wheelchair, Jews with glitter on their shirts, a Jew on a bicycle holding a surfboard, 1,000 sunglasses (most of them placed above the forehead), a petite redhead in an army uniform, a Jew with a Yankee cap, a four-seater Renault with seven people in it and a Moshiach bumper sticker on the back (honking), a Jew with a buff torso and black T-shirt with one English word on it: “Open,” a little girl in a stroller who looks just like my little Eva, a tough-looking Jew with long sideburns who needs four fender bumps to park his Rover hatchback, a girl with pink hair, a little storefront with a huge sign that says The Krenko Records Shop, a little black dog without a leash, a Peruvian-looking man with long, black hair holding a baby, a beggar saying “Chag Sameach,” a frum mother with her daughter, no one taking pictures, a bathroom stall with a narrow, vertical window (presumably so a security guard could see inside) and a small poster of the new Sean Penn/Nicole Kidman movie. Pretty much everyone talking, either live or on a cellphone, sun setting and not many people leaving, no CNN news crew in sight, litter on the ground, live Jews everywhere.

David Suissa is founder and editor of OLAM Magazine and founder of Jews for Truth Now.