Who is following the news, our ulpan instructor asked? We were sitting around a long table in our new classroom, the "caravan," basically a trailer with a window-unit air-conditioner at one end and a whiteboard at the other.
My classmate Marisa (from whom Yafa and I are subletting our apartment this summer) raised her hand. I'm in the news, she said. I was interviewed by a reporter at the mitzad ha-ga'avah (pride march) on Thursday!
The pride march in Jerusalem is big news, confirmed Michal. What do y'all think about it?
There was silence.
What? No opinions? she asked, mock-horrified.
It's a...difficult issue, someone ventured.
Of course! This is Israel! Everything is a difficult issue. If it's not the gay pride march, it's Jews and Arabs, or Israelis and Palestinians, or the security fence, or the captured soldiers... Marisa, what did you say to the reporter?
I don't remember, Marisa admitted, and we all laughed. I think I said something about Jerusalem being a place for everyone.
So what do you think about that? Come on, Michal urged us.
I piped up, and in halting Hebrew said, well, if the beit hamikdash (Temple) was a house for all peoples -- it says that, right, in Yeshayahu (Isaiah), 'My house shall be a house of prayer for all peoples'? (There was general nodding of assent.) So Jerusalem too should be a house for all peoples.
Jews and Muslims and Christians, Michal offered, heterosexuals and homosexuals?
Right, I said. That's what I think.
And then I thought, I'm having a conversation about gay rights. In Hebrew. In Jerusalem. This is unbelievable. I don't ever want to forget this. I should write it down.
And so I did.
I finally managed to upload some photos to flickr. (Thank heavens for the wifi at the Conservative Yeshiva.) I've put up two photosets so far: Old City (34 photos in and around the Old City, from the jaunt I chronicled the other day) and Misc. Jerusalem (17 photos, mostly shots of my apartment so my family can see my monastic quarters, plus a few photos from the mitzad ha-ga'avah.) Enjoy!