Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Muezzin of Omer ---------

I was interrupted from a dream in which my friend Seth was explaining a project of his to me. An hour before davining (praying) time for Shacharit (the morning service), I was awakened by the Imam of Omer's (in Be'er Sheva) call to the faithful to pray. To show my G-d that He is the King of the world, and of mine, I like my prayers to be the first thing in the day that I do. But since the Imam woke me up an hour before Shacharit, his repetitive singing voice was what I heard as I lay in my bed. Eventually I had to put my plugs in my ears, and since his voice, coming from down the street, I shoved them in further into my ears to block out the sound - it seems that even my holiness and connection to G-d is not safe from the clutching fingers of Islam.

Were I a Muslim, I would have been spiritually stirred in my bed from my slumber to worship. But I am a Jew and therefore the sound was different in my ears. In the abstract mental state of just waking up, I wondered if we were in Spain in the 13th Century where there was the confluence of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and where those three religions functioned in close proximity. In the Golden Age of Spain the three religions were enthralled in a intersection of sorts where information, knowledge, and even spirituality were shared. If that was the situation here, I would have been welcoming of the Imam to earnestly call the faithful of Islam to come worship our One G-d. But we were in Israel in the 21st Century where there still exists an Arab Muslim (and sometimes Christian) nationalism unfriendly to the notion of a Jewish state, and it was in light of that knowledge that I was unsympathetic to the otherwise genuine and humble call to the faithful to pray.

In America, where I have lived for the last twenty years, I was annoyed with the prospect of our Land being made an establishing point for Muslim rule, but my understanding was relatively theoretical. This is only my third day here, but now hearing the muezzin (the one whom calls out the prayer) in Israel I couldn't help but feel the almost tangible promise of the statement made by that call. It is then that I understood the call to have a double-fold meaning, the first being the gathering of the faithful of the Muslims to pray, and the second, the political message to the "unfaithful" declaring the dominating nature of the religion of Islam and its intent on staying just where it is, perhaps pointing to a future time of total sovereignty here. In this, Israel is a land no different than any other land where Islam tries to root itself, but on the other hand it is entirely different in that Israel is the unique and only homeland of the Jewish People, and so the politics of Islam create a scenario of survival for the Jewish State. How much more bothered would I be had I heard the muezzin during my davining at the Kotel (Western Wall) in Jerusalem, the most intimate connecting point that a Jew knows with his/her G-d, and even (and of course) that place has had to concede to the apparently obligatory and unchallenged right of Islam to create an "outpost" for itself anywhere.

I will write more about the topic of Muslim rights in Israel a bit later - I might have to after Shabbat since I and my mom are going into Be'er Sheva today for her to get a haircut, for me to exchange some money, and to get some more tzitziyot (the stringed vests that Jewish men are required to wear by Torah Law).

On another note, on my way to the synagogue behind my aunt's house this morning, I tied the gate so that the dogs could not get out. My aunt has a white husky named Nina, and earlier, my uncle Ofer dropped off his black lab because he had some business in the area. The dogs stand inside the grassy garden area most of the day and don't go into the house. The white dog is allowed to roam free in the neighborhood because she will always return home, but the black lab might run away so we keep it inside. Nina ran out as I stepped through the gate and started to chew on some trash bags nearby. I told her to come back in but she would not because she does not listen, and so I had to tie the gate, knowing that she would stay outside until I returned. She was too enthralled by the trash to listen to me. As I walked along side the house I heard the black lab running back and forth and could see her through the bushes of the house.

I'll continue this later, gotta go catch the bus to Be'er Sheva...

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