Being raised in the West in a country that does allow religious freedom, I didn't realize until I came home to Israel, how not free I was. My faith had a guardedness about it according to the social mores, customs and practices of my birth country. Rather than list what the limitations were, let me share the things that struck me in Israel that I did not experience before.
Daily conversation is pepper with references to G-d.
Someone arrives, the greeting is:
Baruch HaBa (lit. Blessed is he who comes. Loosely translated: welcome)
'How are you?'
(lit. Bless The Name~ loosely translated ~ Bless G-d~ More loosely translated~ Praise the L-rd)
This is actually the answer to many questions, leaving the listener to come to their own conclusion.
'How is your job?'
'Has your mother-in-law come to live with you?'
Another phrase that is common, and a good reminder to the speaker:
'Will you be coming to the show tonight'
'B'Ezrat HaShem' (With G-d's help)
Two weeks into the Land, I was in the shuk (like a farmers' market) It was Yom Shishi morning (Friday) which is a very busy time being right before Shabbat. Lots of vendors shouting out about their wares, people bustling by, a few beggars~ moderate but happy confusion. Suddenly I heard loud music and singing. Beggars? A party? Then I recognized the song. Someone was singing 'Moshiach' and dancing! No beggars. Just some excited young men rejoicing before the Shabbat begins.
I had to stop and 'breathe in' the moment. Looking around me at all that was happening~ people shopping, hurrying, going about their day~ and the music was floating down over us like a sweet mist. In the noise of the market place a reminder of what it's all about. The Holy brought into the mundane. Sigh.
Here is a short clip similar to what I heard: Moshiach
The other limitation I didn't realize that I had until coming Home was prayer. Granted, in my birth country I could pray all I want. Just not like here. In Israel, there is prayer three times a day. Those who participate are not thought of in any negative way if, in the middle of a task, they say, 'Gotta go daven (pray)'. They go, meet others who are also davening, and then return when they are finished. Sometimes, they daven where they are. Such as this guard at the Bloomfield Museum yesterday.
A common, lovely sight is also those who are reading Tehelim (Psalms). On the bus. While waiting in the doctor's office. Sometimes even while walking to a location. Books of Tehelim can be found on a shelf or a table in public places~ the hospital, medical centers, cafes, and even government offices. Our daughter-in-law was pleased to see them in the Misrad HaPanim~ this is the government office for all official identification~ citizenship, passports, recording births. A very difficult place with chest-high red tap, anxiety to match and it's floors could be washed with the many tears of frustration. To see the Books of Tehelim there is a little like the government acknowledging the need from G-d to make it through. (tongue-in-cheek).
We will close this post with a clip from a song we heard on the radio over the loudspeaker at the Mall while we were shopping. The 2 Spies are continually amazed at how this place where G-d chose to put His name is so totally saturated with that Name. Reminders abound to keep us in remembrance, if we will attune our hearing.
(The English words are on the clip. The singers are Mordechai Shapiro and Yakov Shweky)
(Click here) Rachem~ Have Mercy