Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Panhandlers and Holy Men

There we were waiting at a red light, right off the Ayalon (the highway on the way to Tel Aviv) on D. Hashalom, when shock of shocks, someone started washing my windshield. I almost kissed the guy, who was young, perhaps in his teens, and really looked quite harmless even though I was ready to deck him after getting over my shock and delight at the experience. I resumed my usual NY expression of ennui and after he finished, shrugged my shoulders as Jess rolled the window down and said, "You didn't even ask if we wanted our window done."

Ah, the joys of city life. Acutally, the other day in Jerusalem on our way somewhere, we were down near Tzomet Pat, there was a panhandler looking for a handout. Religous Jew, handing out some sort of information, literature, hoping for a little tzedakah in return. That the difference between Tel Aviv and J'lem in a nutshell. In TA today, and I was only there for a short stint - quick park, short walk on upper Dizengoff, buy sandwich which took forever but was good, back in car, drive to Park Yarkon, find Gabe's baseball game, watch end of baseball game (Gabe hit a grounder for the final out), drive Gabe to sister Sarah's house in traffic, drive in traffic home to J'lem - but I saw and actual panhandler. This guy was authentic in a grubby outfit, walking in a manner that suggested physical handicap and looking for change.

As usual, the weather was positively balmy today in Tel Aviv and it was nice to take our jackets off and bask in the tropical air - at least for an hour or two in the middle of the afternoon. The Park was great, sort of Central Park for Tel Aviv and really reminded me of what's seriously missing in J'lem, green space for all. Here were baseball and soccer fields, hoops, bikers, boaters and scullers on the Yarkon River, kids riding Segways! (we said we had to return to do that) and the smell of green grass and fun. The panhandlers were nowhere in sight.

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