I have tried to feel comfortable here but I guess the lesson is that there are places where I am just not going to feel comfortable. Safed is a conservative, religious community. It feels serious. I feel like an intruder, like everyone here has a secret I would never understand.
I can’t help but connect my impressions with the City’s modern history. In April 1948, Safed was a predominantly Arab community, as it had been for centuries. In May 1948, the Israeli army drove them out. In 1980, the handful of Arabs who remained in the area were relocated by the municipality to an isolated village and their houses were demolished. Many of the historic houses in Safed that once belonged to Arabs are owned today by Jews who practice Kabbalah, a philosophy built on unity, giving, and compassion. The contradiction must hurt.
Since Wednesday night, I have read, planned trip logistics, and watched Anthony Bourdain. I went to holiday services. I went for a couple of walks but the empty streets and the hot wind just highlighted the trash in the gutters and my feeling of isolation.
I have had a a couple of bright moments. One of the children who lives in the house across the courtyard periodically breaks out in loud and rapturous renditions of Hebrew holiday songs. There are many, many children here and they are openly loved.
Hei Yud Mem
I will let go of my desire to be right. Happiness is more important than being right.
I will strive to be less reactive, to hear and accept the beliefs and ways of others, to look upon them with compassion and understanding.
I will look at all people and situations with an open heart and an open mind.