Tonight Rodolfo and I went with our Japanese friend, Norita, to see the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra perform with visiting pianist Yuja Wang! It was beautiful! Here is a video of Yuja Wang in action…
Here’s another cool video, this time of Natalie Hershlag, who happens to be a dual Israeli and American citizen, speaking Hebrew. Wait, you’ve never heard of Natalie Hershlag? That’s because you probably only know her by her stage name, Natalie Portman. (It’s a pretty old interview, concerning the film V for Vendetta, but still interesting to hear her speaking Hebrew.)
In a movie I really like, 2 Days in Paris with Julie Delpy and Adam Goldberg, Goldberg’s character is obsessed with Duncan J. Watts’ theory of Collective Dynamics of Small World Networks. “Our world is small, and if you travel to the other side of the planet, there is a high probability you will bump into someone who lives down your street,” Delpy’s character explains. “Scientifically, it is proven that it’s not just chance. We are a whole and everything is connected. The illusion of chaos in which we live is actually orderly and definitely linked.”
In the varied and international peoplescape that is Jerusalem, I have found myself trying to prove this theory several times. So far, I have found tourists from a Florida town where I lived as a child, Jews from the New York neighborhood where one of Rodolfo’s closest friends used to live, and a Palestinian college student who studies at St. Thomas University in Houston. And this week, I may have hit pay dirt. I found a deacon’s wife from St. Matthew Catholic Church in San Antonio, the town where my mom lives and where I went to high school.
Deacon Tom and Mary Jane Fox have visited the Holy Land over 40 times with pilgrimage groups from San Antonio and run a Catholic evangelization ministry called Pilgrim Center of Hope. Learn more about their work on their website.
Speaking of a smaller world… Welcome to the new global age, where an Ecuadorean in Jerusalem makes a Japanese dish for his American wife! This week’s featured food is delicious Valentine’s Day sushi, made by Rodolfo. Since sushi-grade fish is a little hard to come by in our neck of the woods, the sushi is made with lox (smoked salmon) and cream cheese (a usual ingredient in Rodolfo’s sushi rolls). Kind of like a bagel, except more delicious and you eat it with chopsticks!
Also, this weekend we went on a mini-retreat with some church friends to Tabgha, on the Sea of Galilee. We stayed in a pilgrim house tucked in between the Church of the Multiplication and the Church of the Primacy of St. Peter.
The “Sea” of Galilee is actually a large lake, and this peaceful place, with its rolling hills and lapping waves, was an important place in the public ministry of Jesus. But it rained off and on all weekend, and when the booming thunder echoed through the valley, we had a small glimpse of how afraid the apostles must have been when out on the sea during the storm that Jesus later calmed.
One of our friends, a Palestinian Catholic of Armenian descent, made us some delicious “Lahmacun,” or Armenian pizza, (literally, “meat and pita”) for dinner at the retreat. We may have to try and make this ourselves soon!
When we were all gathered in the kitchen preparing dinner at the retreat, my Armenian friend asked me to hand her the scissors. I held them out to her, handles first, but she wouldn’t take them. She gestured at me to set them down, and then she picked them up. “This is a superstition in our culture,” she said. “If two people touch the scissors at the same time, they will quarrel later. I don’t want to quarrel, so better just to set the scissors down.” So interesting! I guess most superstitions sound a little strange to those outside the culture. I understand not walking under a ladder (falling paint or hammers?), but what about Friday the 13th? Or throwing salt over your shoulder? Or seven years of bad luck following a broken mirror? However, in Jerusalem it is impossible to avoid black cats crossing your path. There are an estimated 50,000 lost and feral cats living on the streets of Jerusalem, and a number of them are black. Watch where you walk! Have a wonderful week!