Or otherwise; lack of boundaries.

Or otherwise; irony of boundaries.

I was walking yesterday in Efrat and realized how a curious thing about living (or at least being) here is that there is less of a pretense of boundaries. Even as you walk around, you can see into people’s homes, beyond their homes. You might ask when someone comes to the door, “Who’s there?”, but most people just say, ” פתוח Open!”

Being from the country, where there’s more space, I am used to a facade of closedness. That is the key word, of course; facade. What is the pretense and what is the reality?

And outside of Israel, of course, you hear all kinds of things about how dangerous Israel is, and how the WALL is so controversial and awful and keeps people from their jobs and their families, etc.

Of course, you don’t hear about how there are stonings and fire bombings every day, especially every time the US tries to manhandle Israel into giving things up.

Kerry is preoccupied with pressuring Israel, notwithstanding the transformation of the Arab Spring delusion into a reality of an Arab Tsunami, highlighting the 1,400 year old intra-Muslim and intra-Arab uncertainty, unpredictability, unreliability, instability, fragmentation, violent intolerance and absence of Arab democracy and civil liberties, which require a higher Israeli threshold of security; in spite of the clear and present danger of a nuclearized apocalyptic Iran, and Islamic terrorism, to Jordan and the pro-US oil-producing Gulf states, as well as the US mainland; despite the transformation of Iraq into an Iranian-dominated global center of Islamic terrorism; regardless of Turkey’s support of the trans-national, terrorist Moslem Brotherhood; and in defiance of the inherently provisional and fragile nature of Arab regimes, policies and agreements, which are frequently signed on ice and not carved in stone.

I guess maybe I missed the return goodwill gestures from the other side, unless you consider that the increase in stones thrown and firebombs.

Oh, just as an aside, like when a young woman I met had to think twice about being friendly with one of the workers in the restaurant she works in, as this fellow had complained how tired he was after partying with his family all night, celebrating the release of an uncle from jail. And, yes, he was one of the murderers of Israelis released as a goodwill gesture.

So let’s go back to the openness of the Israeli life. That’s just it–even as the neighbors threaten to cause trouble and do cause trouble, Israelis are not going to bow down. They will continue to be open. Because, really, what is the alternative?

Well, here is something. I received a link from, a travel site.

One of the many great things about working in the travel industry has been upending (my own) preconceived notions about destinations, particularly the ones that get a bad rap in media. I was psyched to discover Reorient, a “non-profit, non-religious, non-political, non-partisan, and non-ideological” magazine that covers Middle Eastern art, literature, music, and film in a fresh and sophisticated way. — Jeralyn, editorial director

Obviously, I wanted to see if the Middle East included Israel. And yes, I had to do a search to find any obvious mention. Yes, there are 17 Middle Eastern countries, and Israel is only one, so okay! But then how would it be portrayed? Many of the articles were pretty much what I feared, but then I found this gem!

In Search of Sonic Translation


Please read the whole article, but here is just a bit:

During the many concerts of the festival, the Arabic and Hebrew musical traditions were woven together seamlessly in perfect harmony, as per the matrouz tradition. Matrouz (lit. ‘embroidered’ in Arabic) is a Moroccan-Jewish tradition based on the interweaving of different concepts and ideas – Judaism with Islam, Arabic with Hebrew, the sacred with the profane. Through the tradition of matrouz, both the Hebrew and Muslim God are glorified in unison, and the children of Abraham brought together in prayer and celebration. Through this musical legacy, Jewish and Muslim musicians alternate between Arabic and Hebrew, between the sacred and the secular, to express not only a love for the divine, but also for one another. ‘[Music has the ability to] translate sacred effects across cultural and linguistic divides’, says Deborah Kapchan, a professor at New York University specialising in the research of music, narratives, aesthetics, and performance in North Africa and the diaspora, in her book, The Promise of Sonic Translation.Through this musical legacy, Jewish and Muslim musicians alternate between Arabic and Hebrew, between the sacred and the secular, to express not only a love for the divine, but also for one another.

I was lucky enough to experience this ‘sonic translation’ as posited by Deborah while attending a Shabbat prayer in the beautiful synagogue of Haïm Pinto during my stay in Essaouira. The divine voice of Benjamin Bouzaglou blessed the prayer, and although being completely unfamiliar with Jewish traditions, I’d like to think my experience was not so different from that of my Jewish friends. Interspersing rhythms from well-known Moroccan love songs, Benjamin made me feel at home, even though I didn’t understand the Hebrew words. The religious sentiments of the song, mixed with the sacred atmosphere and the familiar Moroccan sounds combined for a divine experience, to say the least, which left me in a trance. Perhaps this is what Deborah was talking about, I thought, as the divine became universal at that moment. Through Benjamin’s rhythms, new sounds were born, which proved to be more powerful than both words and ideologies.



2 thoughts on “open!

  1. Great post. Yes, “patuach!” is so characteristically Israeli! I had “petichah” today at Shacharit, and was davka thinking about that, especially since a wren somehow had flown into the Beit Midrash and couldn’t find its way out. We opened the one little window in the room, but it was too hard for the poor bird to find. I was kind of opening the Aron Kodesh as a little tefillah for the bird to find an opening, and a little later it made it into the office and they opened the outer door, and patuach! It got me thinking about openings and transitions, and then your post arrived. And the music! Wow! That is quite a group! love

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