Monday, July 29, 2013

Early Morning Risers

I could easily be labeled a "Crazy Cat Lady" by my neighbors:  every morning, easily before seven am, I go outside with a little container of cat food and a bottle of water.  At three different stations near my house, I put out some breakfast and refill the bowl of water, as the Israeli Summer gets more and more scorching each day. I have been doing so since Hurricane Katerina, when Raphaela was an infant I would take her with me in a sling, and now she accompanies me and helps me in this task I have undertaken.

In fact, these days I am an 'agent' for a Japanese woman named Takako, a non-Jewish Zionist who travels to Israel several times a year, and spends most of her time walking around the entire city of Jerusalem looking for cats to feed and rescue.  When she returns to her home, she leaves me bags of food to act on her behalf as well my own.

Predictably, we bump into the same people every morning, the religious men in the area going to synagogue, the older Russian woman sweeping away the leaves from the front of her building, my elderly downstairs neighbor who takes in her "constitutional" every morning at the crack of dawn.

We also see a religious man, always carrying a bunch of plastic bags, talking to himself and collecting bottles from the recycling bin. I happen to know him and his family, they live about 20 minutes away from my street and he is certified as a lawyer, his wife is a professor at the Hebrew University;  several years ago he was diagnosed with cancer and received chemotherapy and as far as I know has fully recovered.

Once, I heard a Jerusalem-based comedian joke that religious men here have a 'thing' with plastic bags, he correctly observed that everywhere in the city you see them carrying their life, their black hats etc. in these random bags, rather than a backpack or a man purse.  But I wonder if there is more to this story with this particular gentleman, why he wanders the streets so early in the morning and collects bottles, and if his wife and children are aware of this behavior.

Recently I have understood that drawing conclusions and judging others based upon outward signs and appearances helps no one, and so I will continue to keep an eye on this man from a distance, offering help if he should ever ask.

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