I unfold my black skirt and my long sleeves t-shirt on my bed. I unpack my brown shoes and I look for my maroon shall.
I dress with the meticulous attention I would use the day of my wedding. I cover every inch of skin I can, I even wrap my hair in a bun under a hat. I clear all my make-up and take off all my jewelry. The only thing I am missing are socks or stockings, but the skirt is long enough to almost cover my ankles, I should be ok.
I have been to Mea Shearim many times before. I have crossed path with religious people there and made contacts with them. I know how it goes, but today I am meeting Sharona, a Yemenite woman whose dress code is even stricter and she specifically gave me indication on what to wear “to feel comfortable.”
So I obey against any of my principles. I obey because I respect her. I obey, but I feel uncomfortable with all these layers…my body is covered, but so is my soul. Hiding under my black dress.
But, in the end, our two hour conversation it’s worth all the scarfs, the long skirts and the closed shoes of the world because below all the layers of her dress, shall and radid *(the Yemenite head cover), there is a strong, wonderful woman who believes in religion in a very spiritual and unique way. She is not a fanatics, she is not trying to convert me, she is just listening to me and replying to my questions as if she was talking to a friend.
She even made a blessing for me to find a nice chatan, which is something I do not like anyone to get involved in, because the way I will find me a man, it’s something personal and out of anybody’s control except faith. Yet again, we connected so much that I allowed her to do it with the promise I would prey for her to have children since she hasn’t had any yet and I believe she is closed to be 50. But you never know…
I am immediately curious to ask her why she is all dressed in black and why, if the Bible says to be modest, she needs to cover herself in three different layers, when one would suffice.
She shows me and then she tells me she chooses this way with her husband even before they got married. She choose to be wrapped as much as Sarah was wrapped and the shall above it all is to give her the shape-less shape so that no men would see her silhouette, which in a woman is the sexiest part. She wants to be like Sarah in her tent, always modest and precious.
I have nothing to say back. She seems so firm and strong in her choices I can’t but respect them and believe that she is indeed proud and happy to wear a shaved head under a handkerchief and a head scarf.
Now, she is not so strict about covering her face while on the street like other Yemenite women who almost resemble Arabs, but she still never really allowed me to show her face in the photos.
Not yet anyways…
But, I am not giving up so soon.
Yemenite women have very interesting views of religion and their depth to it, I just can’t let it go so quickly, especially since it took me two months to finally reach Sharona since the very first day I met her back in June.