Saturday, July 10, 2010

Drive By Weddings

Friday night in Jerusalem is a time of peace. The city shuts down, buses stop running, the decibel level decreases and a quiet descends on the streets. But sometimes, the quiet is uneasy, and is broken
Yesterday, we were going about our pre-Shabbat routine in Jerusalem. Knowing that the shuk would be shut down (as are most grocery stores), we stocked up on a few essentials. Once back from the heat of the Mediterranean sun, we cleaned up and got ready for our evening. I, along with several other fellows, and a friend from Wash U, had made plans to attend the Jerusalem Challenge, a bid to get together Jewish young adults from across the religious and national spectrum for a night of conversation and shared experience.

As my roommates and I sat in the common area of our apartment, we suddenly heard concussions, first one, then more, each louder and closer than before. Now, I haven't served in the army, but I certainly know what gunshots sound like. When my roommate Noah peered out the window and saw flashes, I told him and Madeline to get in the bomb shelter room and lock the door. We heard a few more booms and sat, breathless. I called the police and they asked if I was calling about the gunshots and that they were already looking into the matter.

As we moved back towards the windows and looked outside, everything seemed to be proceeding as normal. Just as the tension grew, there was a knock at our door.

After looking through the peephole, I found Dave, my Wash U friend, having finally made it after a long trek from the States.

We let him in and, as I introduced him to my visibly shaken roommates, asked him if he had heard the shots.

As it turned out, he had seen the whole thing transpire. There is a tradition at Arab weddings that guns are fired into the air in celebration. It just so happened that this particular wedding party thought it prudent to fire in the air while driving through the city, which might be marginally acceptable in the outskirts of Afghanistan, but is understandably upsetting in a place with a history of unrest and tension like Israel.

Our fears allayed, our breathing returned to normal, and Dave and I even managed to make it to the end of services at Kol Haneshama

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