Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Kotel

When I was nine years old my parents told me that we were leaving home and moving half way across the world to a place called Indiana. As a nine year old British boy I was confused, since as any British child can tell you there are really only a three decent places to live in America; New York, California, and to lesser extent Texas (because that is where cowboys come from). Any of the other areas are just assumed to be complete crap. I’d always believed that my parents were smart, rational people until they announced one night that we would be moving to a place that sounded as exciting as an rectal examination. Don’t get me wrong I love Bloomington Indiana; it just took about six or seven years and the discovery of alcohol to realize it.
I had grown up in Oxford and had known most of my friends since that time I was a little half naked wanker running into walls and racing my blue tricycle down the Cowley road. However, since then, I’ve lost contact with most of my friends and that loss made it harder for me to make new ones in the new world. It took me two years after moving to Indiana to meet people that I still consider friends, because my original friendships had began around the time that my first memories had developed. Moving across the pond and not going back (for five years) wasn’t like turning over a new leaf, it was more akin to burning an old one. Even when I did go back I realized that they really weren’t my friends anymore, because of the decade long void created in my absence. So, instead, we become nothing more than ghostly acquaintances that float through each other’s lives through sporadic emails and sparse visits until eventually give in and realize that there really is nothing left for me in Oxford. That’s when the teenage identity crisis comes to a close and I know that I’m an American.
Three days ago: I walk from my apartment situated in modern  downtown Jerusalem all the way to the old city. I enter through the Jaffa gate and into the Armenian section. I wandered though a long brick archway where the insides are plastered with posters commemorating the Armenian genocide and past a courtyard leading to an ancient Armenian church. I take a left through a maze of smaller archaic walkways that lead to the Kotel. There an orthodox Jew asks me if I would like to put on Tefillin (phylacteries) so I can doven at the last vestige that is the Temple of Israel. As he help wraps the black leather around my arm he asks where I’m from and I tell him Indiana. In a thick Russian ascent he says welcome home Moyshe. 

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