If you meet a woman on a bus while complimenting her jewelry and then follow her all the way to her home just to talk to her, is that considered stalking? What if you meet her again a month and half later and approach her once more…for the same reason you were not able to really talk before?
Well, this is how Leah and I met. The first time we were both going home on the light rail toward Kyriat Moshe, she had just a little time, enough to tell me she was a Moroccan Jew from Casablanca who came here in Israel when she was two years old.
That’s when she got me hooked. But for several weeks our path diverged, we played phone tags and never found time to meet and speak more about her “coming back to religion” after a life in the army first and in the jewelery industry later.
Today I saw her crossing the street on my way home from the shuk after shopping for groceries.
I couldn’t but stop her. She remembered me, because just about anyone who lives in Jerusalem has seen the other before somewhere.
Well, we spoke and laughed and spoke some more. She is not a diamond dealer anymore.
Fourty-seven street does not speak to her the way it did when she was young and thirsty for money. She has a little real estate practice here and then she helps a friend running a massage therapy/spa store in Nachlaot.
Mother of seven and married twice, she is one with her blackberry that rings all the time regarding properties for sale *(except when I ask her to take photos).
She came from an extrimely religious, Moroccan family, but once she landed in Israel, joined the youth movement and later the army, she “became more confused, because all of these new habits wasn’t what she was used to.” Yet she went with them because she wanted to fit in the system.
So her attendance to Torah classes started to decrease and instead she moved to New York to study business at Queens college while working as a diamond dealer to support herself and later her husband and three children.
But something was always missing…
You may not think about religion, but you feel it when your life becomes too materialistic and all you do it’s work to survive.
“When I decided to become Bal Chuva, I left the diamond district and moved back to Israel and started manufacturing smaller jewelry,” said Leah. “There was something more important to me.”
We keep on chatting for hours, but the sun is going down and she has to go daven Mincha, so she tells me “we must continue this conversation…” I tell her for sure, but I only have one more week in Israel, so we must hurry.
She looks at me with different eyes, she is not judging the way I dress, she is not concerned with my red pants and my black top, which shows my shoulders. She does not care I wear sandals, she recognizes that any Jewish nashamas who crosses paths should welcome one another.
“I was there were you are many years ago,” she said. “I cannot judge you and your choices because they were once mine. Now that I have changed, all I can say is that we are all connected, we are all one, so, another soul move makes others move too. And all together we will contribute to the peace for the whole world.”
We are “Or la Goym,” we must work with one another to be sure we illuminate the way for others who are not Jewish, she concludes.
She walks away in the sunset light. Her polka dot dress flowing in the wind while she steps into a synagogue to say the night prayer.