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On Coffee Shops and Camaraderie

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Life of Yeshiva Guys in Israel: On Coffee Shops and Camaraderie

Life of Yeshiva Guys in Israel

A Pictorial, Vidorial, and Textorial Panorama of the Life of Yeshiva Guys in Eretz Yisroel (Israel). Join us as we discover Eretz Yisroel and all it has to offer Yeshiva Bochurim.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

On Coffee Shops and Camaraderie

Let me live in a house by the side of the road
Where the race of men go by-
The men who are good and the men who are bad,
As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner's seat
Nor hurl the cynic's ban-
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

-Sam Walter Foss

Boruch Hashem, I had a very enjoyable Bein Hazmanim. Unfortunately, I can't discuss too much of the specifics of my BH, due to my desire to retain my anonymity...but there was a little action, some trip-ing (no, no that kind), and a LOT of chilling.
When I say chilling, I mean more than just sleeping. Or sitting around the dira engaged in b**l schmoozing passing the night single-handedly rectifying the problems plaguing the yeshivishe velt- I can do that during the zman. Kidding.

Anyway, chilling, for me, means people. Watching. Observing. Even sometimes interacting. And doing so from a discreet, relaxed position, listening to music or whatever.

And not just any people. Oh no. My people; My Yidden. All of them. "The men who are good, and the men who are bad, as good and as bad as I". I can watch them for hours. So where do I that, you ask?

And here I let you, my dear reader, in on a wonderful secret- assuming you aren't a title reader (I know I'm not), and haven't discovered it already. The coffee houses of Israel house the most eclectic, diverse cross section of the Israeli culture around. Perhaps second only to diversity at the Kosel, all types are there, and all over. Yaffo, King George, Rechavia, Ramat Eshkol, Moshav Germanit, and even out of town. I enjoy few things more than rolling into
a cafe and chilling, writing, listening to tunes, and of course watching the people.

So what did I observe? What did I see on this Bein Hazmanim's journey through the cafes of the land? What about the people so attracts, nay, demands my attention? Can engage my interest, and hold it (no mean feat) for hours? I'll do my best to explain, but the truth is you have to try it for yourself to see what I mean...

"The men who are good".

This one spiffilly dressed accounting student type was having serious connection based issues with his laptop. He initially asked the in-house techie of the cafe, and when the techie couldn't help him, the guy was stuck. Or so you'd think.
In a matter of minutes, a number of ordinary patrons with no vested interest in getting this guy up and running did just that- got the guy up and running. (BTW, good bit of trivia to know- "ordinary" patrons in cafes often have serious computer skillz).

In a similar vein, on more than one occasion I've seen random, unconnected Yiddelach help out others. From small things like watching people's stuff while they use the W.C., or even rearranging seat locations to provide others with access to power outlets- nothing surprises
anymore here.

And then, there are

"The men who are bad".

Just the other day, towards the end of the night when the cafe I was in was almost empty, an average American Bais type of bochur around 18/19 years old strolls in.
He needs to use the bathroom. Nothing new. I've seen many people walk in to use the facilities. He's decked out in in a white polo shirt, green khakis, and a leather yarmulke clipped to his head. As he makes his way towards the W.C. door, one of the cafe's servers
bars his way. "Hizmanta Mashehu", he asks? "Huh", he mutters in reply. Clearly no linguist, this bochur. After a minute of exchanging grunts back and forth, the bochur finally chaps what the server wants.
"No, I didn't buy anything".
And in stupefied silence, I watch the Israeli cafe staffer deny the hapless bochur entrance to the bathroom. As the guy turned to make his confused and somewhat embarrassed way out, I observed one more thing.

The staffer was chiloni.

So yeah, there are all types in the coffee houses of Jerusalem. And then again, there was the small coffee shop owner who apologized profusely to me when he realized I couldn't eat anything because of the non-Mehadrin hashgacha. He explained to me why it wasn't Mehadrin;
and made it clear to me that I could sit there as long as I liked- gratis.

Small shop, big man.

And the diversity! Oh, the diversity. All types. Yeshiva guys. Mizrachi. Chiloni. Dati Leumi types. Families in the middle of the day, just stopping in for a minute to cool off with an iced drink. Tech types with huge laptops, using the cafes as offices away from the office.
Dates. Loads of them. Foreigners; Americans, Euros, and even Arabs. Even some organized this one.
And random groups of friends bumping into other random groups of friends. The atmosphere is, somehow, very homey. One big happy family. And while it may be that the prevailing energy and vibe in cafes is good only for collective benefit reasons (see this piece for more on that), the bottom line is that the overall attitude is:

"And let me be a friend to man".

So while Foss likely didn't mean a coffee "house", I have little doubt that he'd have been at home in one. Or at least in an Israeli one.

So that's my Bein Hazmanim piece, and this is Yeshiva Guy, signing off for Elul Zman. I'll have some pre-scheduled pieces going up, but won't be online-mostly.
If you need something specific, or just want to drop me a line, I'll be on Twitter, or you can get me via the Be BKesher form at the top of the page or here.

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Anonymous IsraeliMom said...

That nasty coffee house staffer may have been Chilloni, but he was just plain rude, regardless of his beliefs or lack of them... IMO.
It was great seeing you in that coffee shop - surprising seeing one of the "Men in Black" just sitting down for a coke with us in a coffee shop ;)

August 24, 2009 at 11:41 AM  

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