Monday, October 8, 2007

Three In One

Sunday was going to be a fascinating day touching on the three major religions (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism) with an ever, slight assuming dash of Buddhism in a most unusual fashion.

Well yesterday was a fascinating day for us. It started out late morning with my parents picking Amira and I up to take us to a Jewish bazaar. A strange thought crossed my mind “going to a Jewish temple on a Sunday, which is generally considered a Sabbath day for Christians”, but what the heck I had never been and had always wondered about stepping through the temple doors. What better way to experience it than through a bazaar? It wouldn’t entail a service in Hebrew, which would somehow just sound like someone clearing their throat or some other inaudible sound to my untrained ears. So, I was thrilled at exploring this unchartered arena.

The whole premise behind us going to this bazaar was to watch my parents’ neighbor perform an ancient Japanese drum ritual. Funny, huh? Going to a Jewish temple to witness an ancient Japanese drum ritual. Does this mean we some how blended Buddhism with Judaism? Who knows?

My parents’ neighbors, Mark (Japanese) and Jenny (I believe Irish), converted to Judaism 20 years ago, hence one of the reasons we were going to the temple. Mark is also a competitor of this ancient Japanese drumming ritual, which his group was asked to perform at this bazaar. As an aside, they were absolutely fabulous.

There was also a petty zoo and pony ride area in the back of the temple, which consisted of a few ponies, a couple of sheep tied to a fence and a little caged area that had a duck, couple of chickens and a couple of rabbits that formed the “petty zoo”. Of course keeping with Jewish tradition (I know there will be those out there that blast me for this stereotype, but what the hell it’s my blog) charged us $3 for Amira to go around a perimeter the size of an individual parking spot—twice. We could have paid the full price of $5 to have someone using his or her personal camera to take her picture on the pony, but we passed as I had strategically positioned myself to snap her photo without being caught.
Oh I have so many other stereotypical comments running through my head, but feel that out of respect for my fellow human brethrens I will just keep them to myself.

Being that it was Sunday, one cannot help but recall that this great country of ours was founded on the principals of Christianity, so allowed my mind to co-mingle the thoughts of Christianity principles with that of the Jewish principles and smiled knowing that I was free to do so.

Amira and I returned around 2:00 in the afternoon and decided to take a nap. We had plans to be somewhere that evening at 6:30, so wanted to make sure we were both well rested for this upcoming event.

At 6:00 Amira had awakened from her nap and we quickly got ready to go. We were going for the first time ever to break our fast at one of our local mosques, and I was thrilled beyond words. I had never broke fast with anyone beside myself and now Amira, so was so excited I felt like a little kid.

A couple of weeks ago I was at Sharif’s (the local jeweler) and the owner Mamoud, always the gracious gentleman, extended an invitation to Amira and I to attend the mosque on Sunday to break fast with him, his family and the community. He and his family were hosting the evening meal. I told him I had driven by the mosque so many times, actually drove in the parking lot a couple of times, but just couldn’t bring myself to go in as I’m was so extremely shy. Again, in his ever, gentlemanly way, he lowered his voice to a soft tone, his big brown eyes even seemed to melt, and said “please come. Don’t be shy. I will introduce you to my wife. It will be myself, my family, and all the people that work here with me. You know them. You and Amira will not be alone. Please come.” How could anyone refuse such a gracious request?

So here we were, driving into the mosque parking lot with hundreds of people already there. Now mind you, I’m so self-conscious because I’m a blonde haired, blue-eyed American who could never be confused with anything else other than being an American. I am the poster child for the All-American looking girl. And of course I feel like every Muslim here is of some Arab background, although logically I know that is not true. How stereotypical, once again, to presume all Muslims are Arabs. We know that statistically that is not true, but right now it’s me in a sea of beautifully dark haired, big round dark-eyed, wonderfully olived colored skinned individuals (Amira included with them) and me---whitey. :-)

I’m thrilled because Mamoud, who I know as Sharif, fell out of the sky in front of Amira and I just as we enter the doors to greet us. Ok, ok, logically yes I stood out like a sore thumb with my deer in the headlights look and all the other stuff I described above, so I was easy for him to spot, but with that being said I didn’t have to venture too far in the doors, fearful, before he immediately was there to put my nerves at ease.

He settled us at a table with his family/friends and near where he would be. He always checked on us throughout the evening to ensure we were ok. We met the most wonderful people and immediately felt like we were with family, alhamdullilah.

They served us the most incredible lentil soup, which Amira devoured. One thing I can tell you about Amira is that she loves food with such a passion as opposed to an obsession. Food is a pleasurable exploration, but not an addictive drug that she needs to survive. Unlike perhaps many of us, self included, that has learned to have a love/hate relationship with food. I’ve learned so much from Amira in the short 4 years she’s been with me that it’s just unbelievable. Words cannot thoroughly express the gratitude I’ve given God for such a beautiful blessing.

After our soup, then we were to get in line and get our main meal. The adults at our table told me they had pizza for Amira if she wanted, to which I said “no, Amira prefers the other food over pizza”. They were delightfully shocked. Amira waited at our table while I gathered our meal. They had such an array of assorted foods that one couldn’t help but want everything. I settled for the rice, hummus, falafel, pita, salad and chicken. As soon as I returned to the table Amira dove right in and started savory the wonderful morsels. Literally this food just tickled our palettes and melted on our tongues. It was heavenly.

Dinner finished and the Imam, whom I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about, got up and spoke briefly and as expected delivered a very exquisite message. While he was speaking, men were carrying a tray from table to table handing out the most tantalizing dessert I had ever tasted in my life (I have no idea what it was beyond scrumptious). When the Imam finished speaking, I thought it would be time to go, but unbeknownst to me while I was listening to him speak, they (the unseen individuals) were placing yet another round of food on the tables behind us. It was when Amira tapped me on the arm, looking past me at the tables filled with food and signing to me that she was hungry, which I could hardly believe after seeing what she had already eaten, I turned around to find the tables filled with the most colorful display of fruit I had ever seen.

We got in line to fill yet another plate of morsels for her. She decided on watermelon and an orange slice. You could literally see the delight in her eyes as she slowly placed each piece in her mouth and let it roll around in there capturing all of the sweetness fruit has to offer.

Once finished, we graciously thanked our host, Sharif, for such a memorable evening, to which of course he has no idea how memorable of an evening it was for me.

Before falling asleep, I recapped the days events and could only thank God with teared filled eyes for such a wonderful day, for the blessings He bestowed upon us, for the health and wellness of my family and friends, and for the continual love He bestows upon Amira and I on a daily basis.

I just love the little boy - he's so serious.

Mark (Neighbor) behind woman in front.


Happymoi said...

What an amazing day you had!
I'm so glad you were all for the experience at the Jewish Bazaar and for joining the community in their Iftar. I was so happy to read all what you had to say! Really what an amazing day! Ah! I miss my Ramadans in Vancouver! Good old days -what else can i say!!

Anglo-Libyan said...

salam ibeebarbie
very enjoyable post, I liked reading about the wonderful day you and Amira had and MashaAllah that she has a good appetite and eats well, I wish I could say the same about my kids :o)

dusk till dawn said...

salam ibee
it was realy a very enjobale post so see u involve wt all those functions its music into the makes u so respected and wise to know all about differnt believes.iam sure u both where the stars of the exciting to see Amira got a healthy Appetite for home cooking food.

ibeebarbie said...

Salam Happymoi,
Indeed it was an amazing day. One I'll remember forever,inshallah.

Salam Anglo-Libyan,
Thank you!

Salam Dusk Till Dawn,
You make me blush. I'm happy too that Amira loves healthy foods, alhamdullilah.

Maya said...

MashaAllah I enjoyed with your post and my Dad read it too
I'm Glad that Amira eatss well and she got an appetite mashaAllah
I was deligthful to read it all specially about the Jewish Bazaar

Fe aman Allah

ibeebarbie said...

Salam Maya,
Thank you. We did have a great time. They also had a book sale at the bazaar and I wanted to gather up several books on Judaism but there was so many I just couldn't make up my mind. So ended up not getting anything, but one day inshallah. My regards to your dadi and family.