Today was sort of the classic Rova morning, so I felt I had to share…
So, in the morning, while the older boys were in school, Mo and I were in our favorite makolet. I was not only shopping there, but was meeting a friend who had rented a car for the week and who had agreed to take my sheitel (wig) with hers to be styled for Passover. Meanwhile, it’s even more than the usual balagan (chaos) in the makolet, as they’re working to flip it over to Passover products. The two aisles are full of boxes to be shelved which meant that Mo in his happy green stroller was often in the way.
I’m in line waiting to pay, behind a very large order, and a nervous looking man comes up who only needs a loaf of bread. He’s late to work, so we let him in. Then comes a little boy, maybe 5 years old, buying lachmania (the classic rolls that the kids here all eat) and that cheese/yogurt stuff that Israelis have for breakfast (they often drink it, I use a spoon). The cashier is a terse but kind Russian woman who never loses sight of this boy. While juggling other customers, she makes sure he has his change, and his food, and is okay.
In the middle of all of this, a bar mitzvah passes by the open doorway. They are a regular, and loud (horns and drums), part of Mondays and Thursdays in the Rova. This is a big one, with a mix of more modern-looking types together with some long peyos (side-locks), all wearing cute matching Che-like t-shirts featuring an outline of the bar mitzvah boy. Other than me, no one in the makolet pays the passing procession any mind.
When I go outside, the little boy with the lachmania and cheese is there, looking anxious. I ask him if he needs help. He doesn’t want to talk to me, but eventually shakes his head. He’s too busy watching everyone go by. I am not the only one fascinated by the street scenes of the Rova.
I walk along towards the ATM, appreciating what a classic Rova day this is, and feeling happy to be here. Walking through Churva Square, with all of the disparate groups of Jews, I start thinking about the political situation and where I would fit if I lived here. A group of soldiers pass by, and I think about whether I would be willing to risk my life for this country. I’m startled that, in that moment, I think I would. A tear comes to my eye as I rumble along the stony square, feeling connected to everyone around me in a new way.
At the ATM on this sunny spring day (it was 80 degrees today!) I am still captivated by this feeling. It has been a dark dreary winter of colds and flus and little inspiration. I am so grateful and excited to feel inspired again. Then I realize: Wait, I’m right here! I can go down to the Kotel right now and channel this feeling into a spiritual experience. I look at my watch – yes! – it isn’t chatzos yet, so I can still daven (pray) shacharis (the morning service). Oh no, but I don’t have a siddur (prayer book). I’ll find one at the Wall – problem solved! I aim Mordechai’s happy green stroller down the road, dodge the bar mitzvah, tourists, and other mommies and look for the shortcut stairs that Dan says all the locals use. I bump the stoller down one flight and suddenly I remember: I bought yogurt. And it is among the first of the warm days. I can’t let Dan’s yogurt spoil just so I can live out some romantic notion. My prayers will also be heard from my house two minutes away, and I will have done something nice for my husband.
Back up the steps, through the crowd and homeward bound. Of course, I could theoretically still daven shacharis, but now I’m home. The baby is not interested in letting me salvage what’s left of my high, and there’s lots to do.