Saturday, May 21, 2016

Jerusalem Hotel 2230

Today was another long, eventful day. The dance scene went well. The director was happy with my performance. The acting looked good because I was with a great actress. Playing off better performers always improves your game.

The dancing looked good because I exceeded the director's expectations. I didn't do anything any trained dancer couldn't do with a little practice, but since he's not a dancer, he was impressed.

Despite spending the morning dancing in front of a movie camera, dinner was the most unusual part of the day for me. I had Shabbat dinner with a Muslim family. It wasn't technically Shabbat since they don't do Shabbat, but it was essentially the same thing. It was Friday dinner, which is more important to them than it sounds.

We all went to the family mosque, which was very educational. For me, at least. The service was unlike anything I've ever seen. A synagogue or Christian church service is pretty much the same. They read from different books, but half of the Christian book comes from the Jewish book. People sit in pews and listen to the preacher.

The mosque was unlike either. Everyone stood and sat on the floor and several different people spoke. Their book, of course, is very different. At the synagogue, I sat with everyone as if I was one of them. I was invited to participate, but not expected to do or understand anything since it was all in Hebrew. At the mosque, I had to stand in the back. I could watch, but I had to stay out of the way. Everyone knew I was not one of them.

The synagogue service was happy. There were bursts of laughter here and there, and everyone seemed to have a good time. The mosque service felt angry to me. I couldn't understand a word since everything was in Arabic, but my impression was that the speakers were yelling at the congregation. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Hebrew sounds happy to my ears and Arabic sounds angry. I don't know. German always sounds angry to me while Italian sounds pretty, no matter what they're actually saying.

No one anywhere in that mosque did anything to make me feel unwelcome. It might have all been psychological conditioning from only hearing negative stories on the news. But I only hear negative stories about Israel, and so far, this has been an amazingly positive trip.

After the mosque, it was dinner time. This was similar to Shabbat dinner and completely different at the same time. Both houses smelled like herbs and spices as soon as you walked in the door. Both had tables full of exceptionally fresh vegetables prepared a million different ways. Both had hummus, made from completely different recipes, each of which was infinitely better than what I make at home. If there's one thing Israelis can agree on, whether they're Jewish, Muslim, Christian, liberal, conservative, light brown or dark brown, it's that their hummus is better than mine.

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