Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Dichotomies of Israel

I had a big meeting in Tel Aviv today and afterwards we ran over to a small shopping mall to grab a quick, late lunch before heading back to Jerusalem. Pretty standard Israeli food court fare, a felafel/shwarma place, hamburgers, Chinese and one or two other places. We grabbed a shwarma, washed and found the one available table. I was amazed at the clerks in clothing store right near our table. They were dressed more like they were ready to go out dancing on a Saturday night than if they were working in a clothing store in the mall. Typical 2005 wear, really tight, low cut jeans, tank-top (it was an especially warm November day), stomach sticking out...pretty standard fare. The thing that amazed me most was that one of the girls went over to the store next door for some reason and as she walked by the entrance, she very purposely veered over to the door frame, reached up, touched the mezuzah and kissed her hand. This is a fairly standard practice in our world, but stood out a bit in hip, secular Tel Aviv and it was especially odd given this particular person's attire (or lack there of). No matter how many times I see seemingly odd or misplaced religious behavior it always strikes me as amazing that people from all walks of life, no matter how seemingly removed from religion they may appear, are all at heart from the same 'tribe'.

The mall happened to be attached to a large hospital center which accounted for the other odd fashion trend in the mall. I saw one guy walk by wearing a sweat suit with what appeared to be a hospital gown/shirt under it. I thought it a bit odd, but figured I was just out of style. Then I saw another person walk by dressed completely in hospital issued robes. This was too much of a coincidence and I realized that these weren't models for a bad fashion fad, but that they were patients from the hospital who were allowed, for some odd reason, to wander around the adjacent mall.

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