Live always at the edge of poetic possibilty, even in the face of severe prose. - Walter Bruggemann

Friday, February 29, 2008

Danger Will Robinson

If you are old enough to remember the 1965 television quazy sci-fi series Lost In Space, then you’ll remember the nameless Robot. Every time he saw, or felt, smelled, or intuitively sensed danger, his mechanical arms would begin to flay in the air as he said, “Danger Will Robinson!” Imminent danger of the galactic kind was on its way. The Robinsons, who were lost in space, needed to mobilize and protect themselves all the while hoping to get home some day.

I feel like the robot today. Right now my arms are thrashing in the air and I’m yelling out, ‘danger, danger’, only the Robinsons aren’t here and it’s me that I’m warning. It’s 11:45 pm and I’m on cultural overload. ‘Danger, danger’.

The day was fairly relaxed until 12:30 pm. I watched a trailer for a movie that looks VERY good, Rumi Running. Whirling Dervishes whirled over the screen. I thought, someday….don’t we always dream, someday I’m going to see whirling dervishes live and in person. That’s if the freaking US dollar recoup and I don’t run myself into the poorhouse living in Jerusalem.

Later in the day I went to the Islamic Museum. It’s not a far walk for a very wonderful exhibit of artifacts, jewelry and manuscripts of the Koran from different time periods. There was a special exhibit of kilim rugs from Anatolia. It was a beautiful day here and I meandered back to Ramban looking at the almond trees in bloom and the cyclamen which grow everywhere here, even out of the rock and pavement. And, it was Thursday afternoon so after I returned it was time to walk to Makane Yehuda, the souk with my neighbor.

The fruits and vegetables were as gorgeous as ever, the strawberries smelled so sweet and the fish stank to high heaven. As we were heading back home, out of the maze and alleyways of Makane Yehuda, we heard drumming. And then we could hear other instruments along with the djembe drums. We followed the sound to a street corner with kippah covered dread heads making music. It was music that I’ve never heard before; I’ll call it, Klezmer Caribbean. The clarinet made the Klezmer sound and the djembe had the Caribbean beat.

People gathered round and an old woman with a brightly colored babushka was out on her second floor balcony. We kept time with the beat and the woman, I think, was giving us the evil eye, or some sort of curse! Her hand kept moving like she was trying her hardest to convince someone of something; clearly she was talking but no one heard her. Every now and then both hands would fly up in the air, like “oy vey, mahn!” It was getting late and my neighbor and I each had plans for the evening so we back out off of the street corner and into Nachlaot’s narrow stone roads down to Rehavia, our neighborhood.

At 7:30 I walked over to the Salesian Theological Institute, not far from my apartment. A group of theologians, priests, pastors and interested people form a group called the Ecumenical Theological Research Fraternity in Israel under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Petra Heldt, a Lutheran Pastor from Germany. Tonight lecture…Philosophical Exegesis of the Bible: A Minority Approach to Judaism. Quite interesting, awfully provocative. But, unfortunately I couldn’t stay for all of the Q & A because I had a ticket waiting for me at Beit Schmuel.

This brings me back to the whirling dervishes. I thought I was going to a Belly Dance show of some of the best belly dancers in Jerusalem…and I wasn’t disappointed. Samer, a shopkeeper in the souk in the Old City sold me a ticket. Usually I don’t stop to talk to the shopkeepers but he had some beautiful jeweled and sequined hip scarves. They always catch my eye. So we struck up a conversation one day. He makes costumes for the belly dancers and they are quite lovely. He urged me to get a ticket and go to the show. I know, it was hard for me too. That is to decide – Philosophical Exegesis or Belly Dance. Both on the same night. Well I was glad that I did both.

The show at Beit Schmuel was outstanding. Not only were there belly dancers shakin’ it up but the Georgian National Ballet with whirling dervish dancers made my heart twirl. Darn good thing that I had taken my heart meds. They even had dancers as young as 8 or 9 doing all different types of folk dances from Georgia. It was a Middle Eastern Riverdance!!!!!!!!!

That’s why, when I finally walked through the front door, my arms started flaying about. “Danger, danger….danger Will Robinson”. We’re being invaded by culture from every direction. There was not much more that I could fit in for the day. So I went to bed dreaming of kilim rugs, kippah dread heads, a woman casting an evil eye, a very straight laced Biblical scholar, all the while belly and Georgian dancers danced in my head.

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