Sunday, 23 March 2014

The Dark Side of the Mourn

I'm actually quite impressed with some of the things I have seen me during my current visit to Israel. Perhaps I'd even dedicate a post to these, eventually. In the mean time, I'm still on mourning mode, and during the past week I have been engaged in a customised version of the Jewish mourning ritual called Shivaa (that's "seven" for you): members of the deceased's immediate family convene at the dead person's house for seven days, while friends and family visit to offer their condolences.
True, I am not known for paying Jewish customs much credit, I do have to admit that this particular habit is an effective way for one to come to terms with a recent loss. Especially when the praying and the religious aspects are stripped away from the ritual and the human aspect is thus emphasised.
That said, I do have some things to complain about - hence this post.

First there is the common greeting uttered by well wishing visitors upon arrival and departure: "may you not know further sorrow". I appreciate the good intentions, but seriously - the only way I'm going to lead a life devoid of sorrow, at least of this kind, is if I happen to die before anybody else. Fuck you, then, if you think I'm going to sacrifice myself like that!
Yes, I know that the people greeting us with this greeting are just trying to be polite when they simply repeat what they heard at previous occasions; let he who always thought deeply about everything he/she says cast the first stone. What troubles me much more are the things that some of the visitors say when they actually think of what they say.
And those things can include all sorts of gems, much of which filled with racism. During the past week I've been hearing complaints about Arabs taking "our" jobs, about the dangers of black refugee people from Africa (amongst which is them taking "our" jobs), and about the inferiority and inherent mischief of people from the Philippines (many of which happen to be employed in Israel as carers for older people). Beating everybody else to the post was one elderly woman claiming all of the above at once while adding that she is a Holocaust survivor. Obviously, she learnt a lot from her own personal experience.
Wait, there's more. A veteran politician, a former number three in one of Israel's leading parties, was telling me of the treacherous nature of left wing voters (amongst which I was while I was still voting in Israeli elections). Not only was he shaming me, which frankly I couldn't care less about, he was also shaming the person whom we were both supposed to be mourning, a person who has been known to say that this is not the country he fought for as he turned from the right side of politics to the left.
Last, but not least, was a friend who decried Christians as stupid. When questioned we found his conviction to be based on his experience with one Christian school mate who scored poorly on two school tests. With the case against Isaac Newton & Co thus so clearly settled, yours truly was left contemplating him marrying a woman of a Christian background and - much worse! - him even having a son with her.
It is important for me to add a disclaimer: those racist, bigoted people I am complaining about were a minority. Most of our visitors came and went having positively contributed to the experience. Yet I could not avoid noting that these foul mouthes visitors were generally able to drop their lines without losing much in the way of respect; some even won a lot of it for their words.
Given I am a guest here myself with this not being my party to administer I tried to avoid conflict. When I protested I did so gently; I either politely noted my disagreement or the left the room. I would, however, die much more peacefully knowing that these assholes will not attend any mourning sessions conducted on my behalf.

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