Friday, March 6, 2009

I Saw Ze'ev Today

(Ze'ev - the ongoing saga (previous posts) of my friendship with a man whom some would call "homeless" - and he is...but to me Ze'ev is a man with a tragic story - and a friend from whom I learn about life)

I saw Ze'ev today. He saw me coming about 1/2 block away, and we threw out our arms in the Israeli greeting that says "I haven't seen you for soooo long"! In fact, we both shouted those words at the same time. It was so good to see him. People turned to stare...I wanted to tell them to get a life.

He looked really good, and although he said he wasn't well, we were both thankful to G-d for the warmth of the sun. After I ran next door to buy him a cigarette, I came back and we talked for almost 45 minutes.

I learned alot about Ze'ev today. A well read man, who knows a lot about many countries, he is an interesting person and fun to talk to. His self-taught English was impressive, as was his desire to learn and speak it correctly..and not only English, but he was hungry for information about how people live and what's good and what's bad about other countries. Searching......

Like so many he fell through the cracks in the bureacracy of Israeli institutions. I understood so well, as I don't fit the parameters either, falling through the cracks as well......there's a brick wall to try to change it or affect a different outcome, - many people just give up. In fact, very few fit into the mold that the government has created.

And like so many, his experiences have left him bitter and angry at this country. I wanted to tell him it was the government but not the people, but when I started to say it, I choked on my words, as I already knew that his experience of living on the street and in shelters had not produced any such nicities among his acquaintances. Pompous words coming from my mouth; though I am closer than most, still I have not walked in his shoes.

Ze'ev was truly perplexed at my love for this country...truly. He looked at me, bewildered. How could that be, he asked. Yet in his wisdom, he said he realized that every country has good and bad things about it, so he knew America wasn't paradise.. But Israel, in his experience with it, has yet to be understood as a good place to be.

I could expand a lot on Ze'ev's story, but somehow, sharing too much seems an invasion of his privacy...and privacy is something Ze'ev has very little of...

So, I am glad for the warmth of this Shabbat for you Ze'ev, and for me too. It's been a long cold winter.

Shabbat Shalom

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