lundi 25 mars 2013
SEARCHING FOR SEDER IN BRUSSELS
Searching for Seder in Brussels
I used to be very active in Jewish Student affairs when I was at school as well as University. Each Year I was able to attend a conference or two of the students and this was my introduction to the Jewish world: I met people who were called Franco who were Jewish Italians; a Goldstein from Costa Rica and a very blond Swedish Jew from Stockholm!
At Mondorf-les-Bains I was introduced to Belgian Jewish Students, of whom Mony Elkaim stands out. Also it was good to learn the lived in experience of these students in various towns of Europe. There I learned that the community of Antwerp was strong and that without the immigration of Sefardic Jews to France, the community might have completely disintegrated, after the Second World War.
Today is Erev Pesach and I happen to be in Belgium, and nowhere near Antwerp where it would have been very easy to find a Seder. So why not do it yourself?
I am always in remote places during Pesach in the last few years and have managed to do Seder in far away places such as Baracoa, Cuba!
I found the address of a Jewish Shop at Henri Wafelaerts street, near the metro Albert. Disembarking, I went to two convenient stores and the young clerks had no idea where the particular street was. I didn't have a map with me, and when I saw an older man crossing the street, I approached him, Bon Jour, Good Morning, ou est rue Waelaerts? He scratched his head, said, I know it is somewhere near here but I cant place it’s It is a small street not a major one. Noticing his strong accent, I said Gracias; he perked up and asked, hablas Espanol? He happened to be from Asturias and we kept on talking. I told him I was from Cuba and he was happy to hear that, then I said I am looking for a Jewish store that sells food and things Jewish. Ha, he said I know where exactly that is.
Go down that street, and you would come across the state prison, don't enter there, and he chuckled, you Cubans must know a lot about that, I didn't want to argue.
After the prison you would see the street, and he even accompanied by half way down the street and went on his way.
I came into the store, the shelves were either covered (things not Kosher Le Pesach) and the other shelves were being emptied. There were a small group of people filling up their baskets. The owner and his son both had kippah and tzitzit on.
I was able to get some Matzo (Yehuda Matzo!), and some other things necessary for tonight’s Seder including a Haggadah. Last year I had done the Seder but followed a you tube Seder and did the rituals watching it.
On my way back I decided to fulfil my anthropologists curiosity about who are the people waiting to be let in to visit the inmates. The majority of the people waiting in line were Arabs, and I felt sad for a stately African lady, perhaps visiting her son. No Asians, No Jews, hardly any European. Even the people waiting had all the societal symbols of marginalization.
On the Metro back to Schumann, I noticed the difference in Metro traffic in Bruxelles and Paris. In Paris, at this time, the metro would be crowded with unemployed youth, mainly Arab and black and there would be no workers or middle class people doing the trip with leisure.
Once again, the metro was nearly empty and the only men using it were either black or predominantly Arab, demonstrating well symbolically that they had no jobs. An odd elderly woman with a shopping car and an occasional traveller with luggage on his way to the ZuidStation.
I made a mental note of the increasing Muslim (Arab) anti Semitism in Europe and for that to decrease we really have to find ways of employment, for these people. Education, Knowledge and Apprenticeship would get them jobs and then there would be less of a need to find a scapegoat to vent their anger on. And we would certainly benefit.
Was able to get some lamb meat, a shank bone, Persil, eggs, chrain, radishes, choux to use for the pesach plate… not chalachically correct but I am making an attempt.
Yes, I am ready for the Seder tonight.
People in Australia have already finished their Seder and gone to bed, the Indian Jews would be finishing their Seder, In Israel at this time, it would be in full swing, and then it is our turn in Europe and our mischpochah in USA and South America will follow suit.
Brother Eliyahu will spend as usual a Persian Pesach; and I am sure he and the mischpochah will take off somewhere; brother Yitzhak is going to Costa Rica, Fellow Doctor Conspirator Mordecai (More de Chai is a variant of his name) is in Sedona…
It is Good to Remember.
And we are one. Am Israel Chai…