Sunday, March 30, 2014

Toes Out of Shoes in Ramat Beit Shemesh

The culprit.

We haven't spent many Shabbatot outside of Neve Daniel since Ash was born, which means my consideration for the diversity of communities and their expectations is a "head in the clouds" kind of situation. When friends invited us to Ramat Beit Shemesh for Shabbat, I'd forgotten that there's just a certain way things are done in those parts. 

Yes, Mr. T packed his suit because colorful shirts and Chuck Taylors just don't fly, but I didn't think twice about packing my open-toed shoes because the weather was toasty and warm and my feet are my traveling air conditioning units. 

So after the gents went to synagogue, Ash and I went for a little walk up and down the road in an (futile) attempt to get him to rest after a few days off schedule thanks to movers coming and packing up our apartment (it takes 6-8 weeks for stuff to transit to the U.S.). 

As we walked near the park, I noticed little girls staring at me funny. Yes, I was wearing a tichel (head scarf) in a very wig and snood heavy area, but it wasn't completely abnormal for Ramat Beit Shemesh. I considered my outfit as we did another round, and despite my long black skirt and simple blue top with a black cardigan over it, one girl made it painfully obvious what was resulting in the funny looks. 

Open-toed shoes. 

Yes, I was exposing my toes. What's more, I was exposing toes without any kind of pantyhose or tights (which, let's be honest, would have masked my naked toes anyway). 

Naked toes! May HaShem strike me down. 

Truth be told, they don't know any better. They're told not to wear open-toed shoes, so seeing someone with them must be like someone walking down the street in a burqa, I guess. They can't help but stare. 

I'd forgotten that there are places like this. They didn't throw rocks at me or say anything rude to me (that I heard anyway). They didn't go to my  hosts and demand they never invite me again. But when we're back over Passover, I'll remember to pack the black shoes and maybe, just maybe, some stockings. 

Note: The most beautiful thing about RBS is the sound of singing, children running around through the streets without a care in the world, families gathering and moving about at a slow and comfortable pace. Sometimes I'd like to take the people from my community and embed them there, mix it up, and see what kind of community I get. I think it might be the perfect community -- for me anyway.