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About two weeks ago I was hiking in the mountains with a group. I walked somewhat behind the group. Two men walked in the opposite direction and stopped to briefly talk to our group (in English, none of the group realized they were Israelis). Before I reached the group, the men continued their walk towards me. When they passed me, one of them greeted me with "ma nishma" ("how are you" in Hebrew). I was confused, but automatically answered "hakol beseder" ("all is fine" in Hebrew). He must have seen my confused look and explained that he saw me and just thought I had to be a Jew in with my skirt and headscarf (no visible star of David or any Hebrew writing that day). I answered something in the direction of "only to Israelis" and we went our separate ways.

This is the first time somebody has spoken to me in Hebrew spontaneously on the street just because I look like a Jew. I felt (in this order)

  1. Happy that I was able to carry out a conversation in Hebrew.
  2. Proud that I was recognized as a member of the tribe by others.
  3. Embarrassed that my way of dressing apparently is so stereotypical.
  4. Worried that today might be some holiday that I had forgotten, that they’d know there is no kosher restaurant anywhere near, …

I am not sure what exactly I was worried about. If I was hiking on a holiday, so were they. If I had no possibility of eating kosher food, neither had they. But they didn’t look religious, so they wouldn’t care. Whereas I looked religious and that sort of thing should have been important for me. I guess I was afraid they’d call me a hypocrite for looking the way I do, but behaving in a way that doesn’t fit. Which is sort of true, I dress more orthodox than I behave. For example I wear a headcovering like an orthodox woman would, but eat vegetarian food in nonkosher restaurants which most orthodox Jew wouldn’t do. Does that make me a hypocrite?

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