oh, hey, secular jews…

Soundtrack of late: clark gable, the postal service; clementine, the decemberists; heaven release us, voices on the verge; words cannot describe, mirah; step outside, the finches; the rowing song, patty griffin

I’m writing at T’mol Shilshom today, the cafe in Jerusalem where Nathan Englander wrote his short story “In This Way We Are Wise.” Yehuda Amichai wrote here also, there’s actually a chair in the corner called the Amichai chair. Plus, their salads are out of hand delicious. Needless to say, I love this place.

I went to Tel Aviv on Wednesday and Thursday, to have a little adventure of the totally different kind. I have in the past had a weird relationship with Tel Aviv, based mainly on the fact that it is relentlessly, monstrously humid, and also, not Jerusalem. I think I’m over it, though.

It doesn’t stop being remarkable to me where my feet can take me, or the bus, for that matter, even if, especially if, it’s the wrong bus. This mobility I would not give up for anything, regardless of how exhausted, uncomfortable and frustrated I am at the end of the day.

I spent a very long time at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, which is outstanding. I firmly believe that art museums can fix everything. We need art. It keeps us from going crazy. What makes Tel Aviv so different, in my limited scope, is that it’s so many things living beside one another-progressive politics, religious folks, secular folks, artists, madness. There’s nothing spiritual that I sense in Tel Aviv, which makes it like a breath of fresh (polluted?) air to me.

On Shabbat, back in Jerusalem, I went to find some secular Israelis. I actually did an online search for “cafes open on Shabbat,” and found one in the neighborhood. Cafe Smadar and I have made friends before, because it’s such a great space-movie theatre/coffeehouse with a tree in the middle of the room. It was so nice to be around people who were just having a normal day, seemingly confident in their non Shabbat keeping (assuming that everyone there was Jewish, which is really unlikely). I’m sorry, actually, that I didn’t investigate the possibility sooner. It would have changed a lot.

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