Tuesday, December 14, 2010

When Stealing Is A Mitzvah

When I was in third grade everyone who was anyone had a Tomagotchi. It was an egg shaped toy with features meant to mimic the demanding needs of a baby and scare high school students into abstinence. Its efficacy was questionable but its appeal was obvious. While teenagers may have been thoroughly uninterested in caring for a two inch faux offspring, eight, nine and ten year olds were very enthusiastic to do so. Thus the not-so-clever scare tactic swiftly turned into the must-have toy of the season.

I use the term ‘must-have’ loosely, since I didn’t have a Tomagotchi. My parents didn't share my belief that I needed an electronic baby who cried a lot, asked to be fed and needed its diaper changed an unnatural amount of times throughout the day; especially when I already had a little sister who demanded this stuff for free.

Finally, after weeks of begging, I got one. Although, I didn’t so much ‘get’ one as I did hide in the closet and steal it off the backpack of a college student. The fact that a person who was old enough-and presumably mature enough- to be in college had a Tomagotchi hanging off a key chain was unsettling to me. This helped justify why stealing it was probably a mitzvah.

Apparently the joke was on me. I soon learned that this thing was an obnoxious pile of colic. And I began to suspect that the guy had set me up to "steal" his bratty pocket-baby just to get it off his hands. Thanks to this irresponsible frat boy I now had to slave away to care for a whiny piece of plastic that had a nasty habit of dying and resurrecting itself.

As my tenth birthday approached, I began to lose interest in the oddly shaped toy. This gave me more time to invest my curiosity in a little gadget they were calling ‘Gameboy’.It looked ah-mazing. But since I couldn’t lift something this expensive I had to take drastic measures to acquire this glorious toy. It was obvious what I’d have to do. Yes. I would have to demand money from my friends and family in the name of my upcoming birthday.

In retrospect, I realize fund-raising for your own birthday is sad. But I knew, as the tenth child in my family, if I didn’t advocate for presents I would simply not get them. My parents were not religious gift-givers, most likely because they didn’t care much for receiving them. Whenever I would ask my mother what she wanted for Mother’s Day she would respond “nachas” even though I’d patiently explained to her on multiple occasions that nachas was not an actual thing. She would also say “We don’t believe in Mother’s Day; every day is Mother’s Day.” This was obviously her subtle way of inviting us to be decent, well-behaved children every day of the year. Pretty unfair. You didn't see me going around telling people every day was my birthday, did you? No. You did not. Although that is a crazy good idea and I must make a mental note to consider doing that at another juncture.

It occurred to me as she continued to speak of this "nachas" with stars in her eyes, that if I didn’t take action-and quick- I would be unwrapping a great big heap of "hug" for my birthday.

Sad, I know. But true. Let's look at the facts. She grew up in France in the Olden Days where they probably didn't have gifts. It wasn't her fault but this was 1998. And in 1998 we gave gifts. And we received gifts.

After much deliberation I determined that just because she appreciated intangible presents did not mean that I had to. I immediately got to work crafting a donation bucket from an empty coffee canister and colored construction paper and began trolling for donations.

When I had my Gameboy, I reassured myself, it would all be worth it.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tales of a Fifth Grade Nothing

Mrs. E used to carry around a clipboard of recycled paper which she would use to tally up the points we earned for good behavior. Once we reached one hundred she would give us a penny with a single splat of red nail polish. Later we could use these pennies to purchase prizes from a file cabinet that was filled with the kind of stuff you'd find in a homeless man's shopping cart. Things that, under different circumstances, would have been remarkably unexciting to us but that had magically accrued in value simply because she was "selling" them. There were foreign coins in there, iron on patches, soap, and random odds and ends she found in the garbage on the way to school.

Ordinarily, it might have been incredibly offensive to be rewarded for hard earned academic achievement with an iron on patch in the shape of Louisiana but it was easy to see that these things really meant something to her. And even if we laughed at her eccentric teaching methods, we secretly shared this inexplicable longing for those red dotted pennies. Of course we could just as easily buy nail polish from the dollar store and paint some pennies as we could steal goods from peoples’ trash. But we did neither. Receiving crap in exchange for answering a question correctly was called fifth grade; going out of your way to gain set of “previously owned” pool balls, however, was just plain sad...This is how you teach children to be honest.

Twice a day she would stop teaching and announce it was time for a “bathroom break”. Wasting class time as a rule was fantastic, so this might have been a glorious tradition, had she not insisted on lining us up in single file and walking us there together. To be seen walking single file behind your teacher in fifth grade, alone, is incredibly mortifying. To be seen trailing behind your teacher for a “bathroom break” was on whole other level of mortification. The store of crap was one thing but this was another and it was becoming increasingly apparent that she needed to be taught a lesson.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Devil Candy

His conviction fascinates me and yet I can hardly discern whether it is conviction or an extraordinary lack there of that makes him an atheist.

I don't know how or why I consistently find myself debating perfect strangers on a variety of topics, all of which i am vastly unequipped and uniquely unqualified to debate on. As I ride the dark Jerusalem-bound transport from Tel-Aviv, the ambiance is that of a foreign black and white film. Across from me sits the classic intellectual; wire-rimmed glasses, skeptical eyes, with the faintest hint of hunger in his laugh. Ten minutes in and we’ve already begun wrestling the tired debate about the existence of G-d; as if either of us understand the first thing about G-d.

The thing about being an atheist, I’ve always believed, was that you had to be logical. You had to be calculated, which meant you had to be cold and fantastically unfeeling. It was for those reasons this school of thought was forbidden to a person like me, given my track record of emotion.

Something about this guy tells me he too possesses few of those qualities. His questions are hot, his accusations passionate, laced with what seems to be the accumulation of years of pain and challenges. Tetris blocks of hurt and resentment that fell for some time but never quite fit together. Until one day his screen jammed and shut down. And he shut down too. Never played again.

He's smart, I can't deny him that, but as an atheist, he simply is not compelling. I get the feeling he thinks about G-d more often than I do.

But his questions are good. So good, it makes me wonder how many people he's bounced them off before me. How long has he had to manipulate his words so that we can dance in circles around the truth?

I tell him what I’ve learned. Stories of kings and rabbis and paintings so exquisite they couldn’t possibly be the result of accidental spills and random encounters. I tell him about this, about that, I rack my brain for anything that can prove to him that my faith isn’t futile. But nothing I can summon on such short notice is impressive or earth-shattering. Even I am not convinced.

He smiles at first, like he’s going to give in, but then he shakes his head. “Your stories are nice”, he tells me, “but they’re just fables."

He’s quiet for a while, now it's just us and the silence I created. And it gives me time to consider the fact that I can’t properly validate my own beliefs. Loathe as I am to admit, I can't help but wonder if one day my default faith might exhaust. It’s an odd feeling to know you believe in something so urgently and yet you can't explain it, you can't justify its presence or reason with its force.

The silence lasts for several moments before he moves in for the kill. As the words form on his lips my heart sinks deeper into my chest. It dawns slowly, growing voices and faces with each vowel, each syllable confirms my deepest fear.

Of course I believe in G-d- I was never given the option not to. I was told since before I could talk that there was a G-d, as my mother led my right hand to cover my eyes. I was taught in the first grade that in the beginning He created the heavens and the earth. It ran on loop in my head like a chant. I was convinced in elementary school that He's suspended in the air and brainwashed all through high school to know that I could never understand His perfect existence. How convenient... how brilliantly executed, how cunning the efforts to keep me from questioning, from uncovering the truth.

He's right, isn't he?

I was forced into this faith, was I not? I can't remember having been given a choice...Now my heart is beating outside my chest... What if he's right?

"Tell me I'm wrong," he dares me. But I can't; I'm mute with doubt. I can't think of a single response to the proud smile that begins in his eyes and spreads like an avalanche over his features.

"Truth is," I whisper, on the cusp of surrender. And really whatever comes out of my mouth next could narrate the rest of my life.

"I don’t know why I believe...I just do."

As the words tumble from my mouth, I’m not sure whether I’m talking to him or myself.

"You're right. I was taught that there is a G-d. I was taught for years to understand His existence. I was taught to appreciate an existence I could never understand...But never, in all those years was I taught to believe."

No longer do I care to sound trite, or cult-ish, because I may very well be both, and chances are I'm neither.

"Belief can't be taught. And it can't be learned. And the crazy thing is, once you have it you can't unlearn it either."

I have no more points to prove. When I forsake my stupid-smart philosophies and pretentious theories, when I'm not so arrogant as to believe I can understand, my mind shuts down and submits to an inexplicable power. To simple, un-glamourous, honest-to-god belief. Something I cannot nor do I wish to understand.

Is it exhausted? Maybe. Is it cliche? Probably. But it doesn’t stop it from being completely, ridiculously, obnoxiously true.

"Hey it's okay," I tell him, "if you believe." I attempt a wink, which turns out to be more of a face twitch "...I promise I wont tell."

Saturday, July 31, 2010


They say in just a moment your life could be altered forever.

I've gone over every instance in my life, every gradual change, every crucial metamorphosis and the only thing I’ve come to realize is that it is far more difficult to differentiate this moment than I ever imagined. It blends in with pink panthers, within the fine creases in life, hiding behind emotions at times best left untouched, or emotions we never knew where there. These moments are secreted within memories we glazed with sugar over the years so as not to remember how they felt when they were imminent. Or within changes so subtle, they threaten to not be there at all.

They say in just a moment your life could be altered forever. But can you really ever isolate this moment, put your finger on it and say, “This is when everything changed”?

Was it last Monday that it all shifted or did this happen years ago? Are we aware of this moment when it is happening or is it one we could only detect in hindsight? Is it the silent moments that crawl past slowly like the short hand on a clock, transforming us over days, months and years? Or is it the ear-splitting moments that shake us to our very core, so that we’ve become different in the span of a blinking second?

Is it the moments we can see coming in the distance, days anticipated, marked in red on calendars? The crucial moments spiked with mixed emotions, smiles that paralyze us with fear and excitement? Tomorrows we are sure will be different from the day before, because we are groomed for them. Because we are warned of their tendency to touch us so deep that we can watch our faces morph in the mirror. Or is it the abrupt moments that creep up on us when we are least expecting, that change us thoroughly? Tragedies that show up on our doorstep in the dead of night? Phone calls we receive when we are shopping for clothing that tell us everything will be wonderfully different.

Is it the sad moments? The ones we so long to discard but hang on to for the fear that if we were to let them go we would lose a part of ourselves? Or is it the happy ones? The can’t-eat-can’t sleep-heart-throbbing-adrenaline-pumping moments of utter ecstasy?

The question has to be: Is it just one moment that changes us irrevocably or a collection of moments we’ve accumulated over the years that tell us who we are and who we are destined to become?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

When I was little, and cash for Slurpees was running low, my sister and I would run to my father and beg for an allowance. An allowance is when my dad would reach deep into his pockets, fish out a tissue, a rainbow array of credit cards and some loose change. First he’d try to pawn his old Kleenex off on us. We’d squeal and insist he behave. So he’d put on a solemn face and ask how much we’d like him to charge on his black card. When that failed, he’d break into his generous smile and tell us that if we were good we could have a quarter each. Gasp.

But then there were those times, when he had time to kill, that he’d get a kick out of making us earn it. There was this game he loved to make us play, and it’s my belief that he enjoyed it far more than we. But then again we were in dire need of blue and red sugar in a cup so we were more than okay with amusing him for pay.

So he’d sit there, in his favorite armchair, take off his glasses and close his eyes. We’d bring him one of his many books and he’d have to guess which one it was. He’d feel them, flip through the pages and…um, sniff them. If he got the title wrong, we’d get a dime but if he got it right, we were down 10 cents. You’d think after our exhausting efforts, we’d at least leave with a Slurpee at the end. Truth is, on a good day we left with about a dollar fifty in debts.

And all along I thought my father was, I’ll admit, kinda freaky. I mean, he had hundreds of these books. They all looked like they were made from the same paper, about the same size and I was roughly certain they all smelled the same. So, for lack of a better explanation, I had come to the conclusion that my father was…an alien.

Of three things I was absolutely certain.

First, my father was not human.

Second, there was a part of him- and I didn’t know how dominant that part might be- that would resort to cheating to keep our sugar addiction at bay.

And third, I needed expose his tricks so I could make my dollar and fifty cents back and be on my way to 7/11.

I never did make my money back that day, nor did I expose his odd gift, but ten years later, I’ve discovered something kind of important. And it’s called, my dad is human after all. Yay.

Of course, that fact is no where near as fun as it would be to have a father from a distant planet but, it’s also pretty reassuring at the same time. Not only is my dad an earthly creature, but it appears we have more in common than I thought. Okay, so I can’t sniff the title out of a book, true. Because I don’t read those books. I don’t learn them and I’m pretty sure I can’t read Hebrew. But tell me to close my eyes, put my ipod on shuffle and I’ll tell you the name of the song playing, the album its from and the remainder of the lyrics.

Sure it’s pretty useless and it probably means I need to get a life but, hey, here’s to potential. Here’s to knowing that if I ever really needed to close my eyes and tell you the name of a book, I probably could. Here’s to the idea that if any of us put forth half as much effort to the significant things in life as we do for cars and dresses we’d be halfway to sitting in a chair and keeping a few nine year olds from their Slurpee money.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My Stranger; My Sister

Our eyes locked momentarily, hers black, darting back and forth, uneasy. She scanned me briefly from head to toe and then shifted her gaze as if it were all a mistake.

I’d never seen her in my life and yet just the sight of her made me uncomfortable. Our distinctions were loudly conspicuous, it was hard to imagine having anything in common with her. She spoke Yiddish and I, English. Her hair was cropped short while mine fell past my shoulders. She was dressed in a conservative suit, I was wearing a sweatshirt.
We were absolute opposites, our silent exchange was nothing but the encounter of two perfect strangers, so as turned the corner I couldn't help but wonder what is was about her that gnawed the way it had?

Which is crazy, isn't it, it dawned on me after...She was a Jewish girl, like me. She lights candles every Friday night; like me. We pray to the same G-d and celebrate the same holidays. We have differing traditions, maybe. Follow different trends, sure. But aren’t we sisters, nonetheless? Don't we descend from the same nation? Haven’t we come from the same past? And aren’t we headed toward the same destiny?

How did it get this way? When did we let it get so far? Isn’t it crazy that I can look at her and pretend we have nothing in common when we only have the same blood pumping through our veins?

Our eyes lock momentarily, hers black, darting back and forth, uneasy. She scans me briefly from head to toe and then shifts her gaze as if it were a all a mistake.

I’ve never seen her in my life but I smile, like I know her.

She smiles back, slowly, surprised that I’ve picked her out of the crowd at DSW.

My stranger.

My sister.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

If I Was a Rich Girl

"Are we rich, Ta?" I remember asking my father as a little girl. He looked at me with a twinkle in his eye, a great big smile crossing his lips. "Sure," he said. My eyes grew wide.

" in nachas."

My face fell.

If he would tell me that now, my eyes would light up like a million neon Vegas lights. But it wasn't now; it was then. And back then, "nachas" had the net value equivalent to a mushy banana.

The truth was we were of course not rich. Not in any sense of the word. Even so, I still managed to have been one of those obnoxious privileged kids we all secretly love to hate. Minus the trust fund.

I grew up with a different kind of privilege. One most children aren't lucky enough to have. Born to parents, most children aren't lucky enough to be born to. There wasn't a question they couldn't answer. Not a thing they wouldn't do for us. They were the heroes of my community. They changed people's lives. Did I notice it then? Barely. Sure, I opened the door to dozens of desperate faces, hungry souls, and when we escorted them out, they left different people.

But did I realize who'd changed them? Never.

I always wondered, though. Wondered about these people. Why they came. What did we have that they didn't? What possessed these doctors, these lawyers, and business executives to come sit in a tent on our porch in the dead of October?

They'd gather around our table with talk of "meaning" on their lips. And go on about the lengths they'd gone to find it. I'd shiver in my skin and wonder what could possibly be so thrilling about a journey that landed them on our claustrophobic deck in below freezing weather. But they'd continue to speak, as if wind or snow couldn't stop them. They spoke with an excitement I couldn't understand. An enthusiasm that didn't belong. And electricity that couldn't be silenced.

"What's so special about meaning?" I'd muse aloud; the amateur cynic.

"Meaning," they told me, was a special place that had taken them years to find.

"'Where is it?" I challenged. "Show me."

But they couldn't. So they didn't. All they did was point to the left side of their chests and say, "'Meaning' is not a tangible place. Not a place you can fly to or point out on a map. Only a place you could find within yourself."

I laughed.

A mistake, perhaps, since I could already begin to see sparks of, oh I don't know, envy combined with horror, crawling in their eyes. They were stunned. Astonished by my wild disregard. Here they were, killing themselves, turning over their very lives just to obtain something I already had and was throwing away. Why, they couldn't at all understand, did I not appreciate the things they fought so hard to find?


Several few weeks ago I found myself in the Old City of Jerusalem, dumbstruck by the incredible air of holiness, when a bunch of local children ran past me. "Can you imagine growing up here?" I marveled, my voice laced with a sentiment fairly akin to jealously. "I bet these kids don't even realize how lucky they are "

As soon as those words left my lips, I regretted them.

I am them. The kid, who grew up in the Old City, skinned my knees on cobblestones and never noticed the magnitude of it. The girl who was born on a mountain, oblivious to the climb one must endure to get there.

Fast-forward ten years, a hop skip and plane ride from Buffalo and I finally understand what they saw when they looked at me. It finally clicked when I was offered a glimpse through the eyes I watched for so many years. The eyes that got wider and wider and with time more astonished and bewildered. The questions that filled those eyes, without them having to utter a single word. How can you not appreciate blatant holiness!? How can you not see G-d when He's staring you in the face!?

This time I saw it, if only for a moment. I saw what I once considered trite and feigned. But this time it was different. Because this time I believed it.

I realize now, it wasn't that I resented "truth" or "meaning" or whatever it was that made these people so crazy; it was that I never got the opportunity to know it. To appreciate it by my own will. It wasn't that I mocked their journey; it was that I envied it. All I ever really wanted was the chance to make my way of life something I chose rather than going along for the ride of something that had chosen me.

The truth is, 'truth' doesn't just want to be recognized in a crowd nor does it wish to crowd surf through throngs of screaming fans; it wants to be found. Sought out and pursued. Certainly, it could be raining all around you, in your bedroom, in your coffee, in your hair, but if you don't reach out, pick it up and internalize it, it means little, if anything at all.

You have to search for it. Under your bed, in your heart and in your soul. You have to want to find it. No matter the cost. You have to earn it. And then earn it again. And again.


Monday, June 14, 2010

If you are a single girl in the city (and by 'city' I mean Crown Heights) there are three things you ought to look out for. Yourself, oncoming traffic, and…well, Dov.

On paper, Dov was everything a girl could ever want. Sweet. Funny. Intelligent. Easy going. And at twenty three, three years Naomi's senior- he was juuust about ready for marriage.

He requested her on Facebook one night and they started up a casual flirtation via Facebook messaging. Since neither was terribly conventional they opted to skip the traditional shandchan process and go ahead on a date.

She heard that piing sound saw his message. 'Pick you up on Sunday at two,' it said, and it filled her stomach with jitters and butterflies and all kinds of wonderful pre-date creatures.

The night before their date she gets a call from Dov. They had a great conversation and just as they are about to hang up he says, "My brother won't let me borrow his car, so can we take yours…?"

Now, the whole shidduch thing was still unprecedented territory for her but she was still pretty damn sure this behavior was tacky and inappropriate first date etiquette. Regardless, she wasn't about to throw a hissy fit over the phone with a guy she hadn't even met yet. So even though she was inclined to get on the floor and kick her feet in a rapid motion, instead, she graciously agreed.

Eager, but kind of bummed, she got up at ten o'clock the next morning, in her dress and heels to clean out her car. The thing was, she'd been really antsy all morning and in the time it took her to clear all of her crap from her car, she'd polished off three Red Bulls and really needed to use the bathroom.

He invited her inside. When she emerged from the bathroom, he was sprawled out on his ratty leather couch. He looked at her with a grave expression and said, "Wanna just stay here and play video games?"

Now there were two possibilities. Either this guy was drop dead hilarious. Or he was total moron. She tried tried coax herself into the first option. It had to be a joke.

"See, that’s just the type of guy I am," he continued.

It wasn't.

'This can't be happening,' she whined in her head.

Oh, but it was.

"I'm chilled," he carried on. "I like to just kick back and take it easy…."


The truth was, if she knew what was good for her, or had looked out for any signs of male pattern infancy, whatsoever, she would have grabbed her heels and ran far, far away from a guy whose idea of a grand first date was video games in his parents' basement.

But she didn't know what was good for her, or let's just call her optimistic. Instead she said, through gritted teeth. "I think we should go out."

See, Naomi was ordinarily a pretty laid back girl. Flexible. Low maintenance. But when they got back in the car and he asked her where she wanted to go, suddenly she wasn't feeling so "flexible" anymore. Disheartened, and annoyed that he hadn't planned a proper date, she sighed, "I donno, how about the Tea Lounge or Starbucks."

"The Tea Lounge is stupid," he huffed, shaking his head. He was loads classier than that. Obviously.

They drove aimlessly for about twenty five minutes and when they passed the same corner for the fourth time, she knew she had to take action.

"How about we get something to eat?"

This seemed to excite him a great deal. He claimed he knew of this great place with fantastic burgers. "You a burger fan?" He asked her.

"Sure, why not." She was pretty much a fan of anything that wasn't on wheels, 5x5 and making her want to hurl.

But just when she thought the date couldn't possibly get any worse, he told her to park.

It was Schnitzy's. A greasy little schnitzel joint off of Ave J in Brooklyn.

This was worse. Much worse.

It occurred to her as she forced one embellished foot in front of the other that this might very well be what hell was like.

The entire restaurant, including the orange clad employees, turned to stare at her as they walked through the belled doors. Silently, she cursed her roommate for coercing her into get dolled up, and the douchebag who had taken her to the kosher equivalent of McDonalds.

He ordered a super-sized burger, complete with rainbow colored sauces oozing out and about five pickles too many. She ordered fries.

After over an hour of strained conversation, complete disdain on her face and sauce on his, he shoved his tray on top of the garbage and grabbed some toothpicks for the ride home.

The fifteen minutes it took to drive from Flatbush to Crown Heights were the longest fifteen minutes Naomi had ever known. When she pulled up in front of his house and put the car in park he climbed out of the car and started to say, "So I'll know for our next date…."

Aww, how adorable. He thought there were be a next date.

"We'll be in touch," she told him and sped away.

Far, far away.

And they never FB chatted again.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

My Corrupt Fashion Affair?

My article on Chabad.org about fashion and Judaism stirred a great deal of controversy and criticism due to the fact that many believed that the two were an inappropriate, offensive comparison that didn’t belong in the same breath.

The biting comments that followed made me sick to stomach and humbled me thoroughly. I've heard that you can’t write anything without getting bad rap. Where there’s good press, there’s bad. And where there’s bad, there’s really bad. But if I was wrong and wholly mistaken I wanted to know and stand corrected. At first I was stung but then I couldn’t help but wonder if they were right. Was I completely misguided as to say that a person could be a fashionable Jew? That a person who might normally get revved up about a pair of shoes could channel that excitement toward their Judaism? Or had my readers completely missed the point?

The crucial focal point throughout my article was that, like football or art or really any pastime, fashion is something that is desired and often leaves a trail of followers. The purpose of my article wasn’t to promote fashion worship but to promote the idea that a person could be as excited about Judaism as they are about fashion.

I understand that there are flaws in fashion and I don’t dismiss them. The industry is fickle and immodest, sometimes to the point of immorality. A person could easily get caught up in material, vanity and the shallow belief that exterior appearances are all that matter. One could fall so head over heels in love with fashion to the point of slavery and reject all notion that there is anything more to life than their body.

That is not the aspect of fashion we ought to learn from. Reb Zushe teaches us the that we can learn positive behavior even from a dishonest and completely corrupt individual; from a thief!

Was he suggesting we become thieves?

Or was he proposing something totally novel? That we are possibly smart enough to discern between the significant and the shtuss!?

Fashion may not be completely kosher and we’ve never mixed kippas with couture but the two may have more in common than we’ve ever cared to admit. The question is, are we strong enough to separate the poison from the message and learn a trick or two from the runway without getting trampled by a parade of six foot, pin-thin models?

Ps. BTW- I shop at Forever 21 (a fashion crime, I'm sure) and I have never met Michael Kors- in person or in the form of a dress. Fashion is eye candy to me, not my life, G-d forbid. As much as I wish I could afford to drip materialism, I can't...

Monday, May 31, 2010


My memories of Israel play like that of a faraway dream, cast in fictional characters and faint story lines that make it hard to believe they ever happened. It’s become a distant fairytale that comes alive only in the horizontal position when my eyes are shut tight. And just like dreams are hazy and made of fairy dust, this dream is vague and sometimes I could feel it drift away.

There’s this one memory, though, unreal as they all are, but still vivid like yesterday.

We’d gone dancing on one of those Rosh Chodesh parades through the Arab quarter of the Old City. It was magical, complete with music, soldiers and mechitzas.

I’m not the hippie kind. For one thing, I’m too grounded to fly and for another, I shower.

But this time, I felt my knees buckle, and I didn’t want to fight it anymore. I didn’t want to think or feel. I didn’t want to be slave to my emotions or get tangled up in cold logic. I wanted my soul to run on autopilot. And this time, I don’t know how or why but I wasn’t afraid to let it.

The memory of dancing with my eyes closed in the dark Arab market was indescribable, so indescribable, I believe the only way to have done it justice would have been to lock it in a capsule, so you could see for yourself.

I was moving like I was air, dancing, like I could fly. Tens of girls surrounding me, arms entwined, moving to the same beat, like we were connected. I didn't want that moment to become another. And I stopped and stood still for a while. To catch my breath. But also to commit every sense of the experience to memory.

Every beat of the drum, every leap into the air, every skip of my heart, and swell of my soul. To remember what it was like. The smell of freedom, the tricked silence and the taste of wild abandon that it left on my tongue.