How I overcame my cockroaches-phobia

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Even in summer, the nights are fresh in Jerusalem and it makes the city very comfortable. But beyond the meteorology, there is in Jerusalem a climate of truth which makes one become very attached.
The present account took place on Friday 28 August in Jerusalem on a fresh night of Shabbat...
My friends, on vacation in Israel, invited me for dinner at their mother's house on Shivte Israel Street [Tribes of Israel]. I know them from Paris, France, where I was living before my alyah.
As I was walking on Jaffa Street, a young woman asked me for directions. I invited her to follow me as she was also going to Shivte Israel Street. She was also French, a medical doctor living since 13 years in Tel Aviv who had decided to move to Jerusalem nine months ago.
It was for moments like this that I made alyah almost four years ago, enjoying the Shabbat quiet of Jerusalem. The rose lights falling on the walls of the Old City, the slow rhythm. It was a life that I never found in Paris and it answered my spiritual needs.
A few minutes later, we arrived in the Shivte Israel Street, we found there hundreds and hundreds of haredim [ultra-orthodox Jews] walking in the direction of Mea Shearim. They were coming back from a demonstration against the opening on Shabbat of a private parking lot near the Mamilla mall.
I stopped on the sidewalk without knowing what to do. I had to cross that wild crowd to reach my destination. I was wearing a black dress to the knees without sleeves.
For that "crime", two children about 9 years old started to spit on me. As I was running after them, many more abused me, spitting and spitting...
The young woman crossed the road and stayed on the other side of the street looking at me, powerless, disconcerted. But soon she had to leave so her hosts wouldn't have to wait too long. I remained lonely and defenseless, hoping the police would come to rescue me. But there was nobody in the street, only hundreds of snakes dripping with venom.
After a few minutes (a century it seemed !) I met two kind and brave African Christian young men to whom I explained my confusion, showing them the spit on my dress. They escorted me to my friends' house.
There we made the Kiddush [prayer made on a cup of wine]. We had a kosher dinner. We made the Birkat Hamazon [prayer made after a meal with bread], just like those people did in their ghetto of Mea Shearim.
When I arrived back home, I couldn't wait to put my dress into the water and detergent to clean away that infamy, from those contemptible people, not really human, not at all, taking advantage of the State of Israel, and spitting on it.
In France, the cockroaches are much smaller than in Israel. The first time I saw a Middle-East cockroach scampering across the floor, I had a new feeling of disgust. But this is nothing near the repulsion I experienced when I was in the middle of those unmentionable people, who neither deserve to get garbage from the State of Israel.
Two days later, my dress is still in the water and detergent. Who knows how long it will remain there...
Joëlle Rubin (Jerusalem, 30 August 2009)

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