Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A dance a day

There are lots of cool things about living in a country that has thousands of years of history in evidence everywhere you turn. I have written before I have apparently failed to write about the cool places right around us, where we take all our visitors. Five minutes away we have an archeological wonderland with remains of a Byzantine Inn, Jewish village with ancient mikva'ot (ritual baths), Arab village and a Crusader Fortress all in one place. Five minutes in the other direction, we have Ben Shemen Forest, which contains the graves of the Maccabees.

We take Maimo on hikes to these places, especially since he seems to enjoy peeing on the Crusaders. So yesterday, Maimo and I packed up and went for a hike through the forest, starting off at the ancient tomb of a local Sheik. There are a number of Orthodox Jews who believe the tomb is not that of a Sheik, but rather, it's the tomb of Matityahu HaCohen, father of Simon and Judah and the rest of the Maccabees. Quite frequently, we see families coming to visit the kever (tomb). It's kind of funny, because the State of Israel has placed a plaque identifying the tomb and giving some background on the Sheik. The Jews who believe it's the grave of Matityahu, spray paint over it with the words, "Matityahu HaCohen." The government comes back and replaces the plaque, the group comes back and spray paints. Ad infinitum.

On our way back from our walk, I noticed a Chassidic man strolling the path ahead of us. Not wanting Maimo to run up and say hello and possibly scare the man, I put Maimo back on his leash and continued to the car. Good thing, too, because while I was looking for the keys to open the car, a police officer drove by (dogs are supposed to be on leash pretty much everywhere. No running free for them, sadly). We got into the car, and since I was on the phone, we sat there for a few minutes so I could finish my conversation.

Which gave me the opportunity to see the man come back to his car, another man got out of the driver's side, and in the middle of the forest, next to the tomb of an old Sheik, the two of them proceeded to dance in the middle of the gravel road.

They had regular hats, not "shtreimels" and longer coats, but this is how they were dancing.

So not only did the Chassidic men save me from a possible ticket for having an unleashed dog, they also put a huge smile on my face. How can you not smile at men dancing with joy in the middle of ancient history and modern trees?

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