Now that the Chagim season has drawn to a close, mistakenlyyou might mistakenly be looking forward to “getting back to normal”.
Five day weekly work routine? Maybe!
Kids reliably settled into the school semester? You wish!
“Normal’” is defined as “conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected”.
But the English word has no Hebrew equivalent. The closest you can get is רָגִיל /”regular”.
Or תַּקִּין which means “proper”.
Since we made Aliyah eleven years ago, I had been saying with hopeful regularity at each Havdallah time that I am determined that next week will, at last, be a normal week. My first normal week since we moved here. However, I now understand that this is unlikely ever to be. And yet that this is part of the going-with-the-flow eccentricity of living in Yerushalyim. Even our city’s name is based on its unique topsy-turvy duality of being both an earthly and a Divine place. Not worldly. Not “normal”.
Whilst the rest of the western world drinks coffee, we drink “Café Hafuch”. The day here begins at nightfall. Surprises and uncertainty bombard us from all directions; often when we least expect. Good and bad. Beautiful and brutal. Fabulous, yet fearsome at times.
We anticipate a day off school and work as soon as the meteorologists forecast a “Yom Shel Sheleg”. And then, even if the snow does not arrive as predicted, the city shuts down for the day. “Yom Sheleg Sameach” we greet each other in anticipation, as we stock up with essentials in preparation for being snowed in. And we enjoy the resultant, snow-less “Sunday” to which we feel entitled.
I don’t remember a week that has remotely resembled “normal” since early May of this year, when Yerushalyim and its infrastructure ground to a halt for the opening of the new US Embassy, followed by the euphoria of Netta Barzilai’s Eurovision Song Contest victory. And then it was Shavuot. And then…
So now we have said goodbye to the hut on our balcony in which we resided for the past week, having spent the best part of a morning beating leaves on the ground, and the following 24 hours dancing around celebrating that it is all over, and yet beginning again. Simultaneously!
I wish you each a happy Chol.
Doubtless by the time I venture into the supermarket to restock after the Chagim, the sufganiyot will already be on display where the jars of honey and the Sukkah decorations had stood! And municipal election-day paralysis is less than one month away!
Madelaine Black is a Creative and Marketing Consultant, copywriter, and coach.
She serves as a Board Director of Tzohar.