Zionist Commission to
We are installed in our new house for three days now, and most happy. It’s great to have a home again. I have gotten for us a housekeeper from the Karrites who keeps everything in the house (it’s a two storey stone affair) absolutely spotless; and a cook Tsivi than whom none is better, I’m sure, in
Our office headquarters are being fixed up here. I’m having the American Red Cross build us some filing cabinets etc. and hope to buy some desks from them. Our chief office rooms, mine and the conference room overlook the
Several days ago I was up there while Dr. F. had a conference with Gen. Money, chief administrator to
My work has been very slight since we’ve moved permanently up here – other than arranging the office and getting things started. The mail continues to Jaffa as no official advice of the change has been given yet, and we have decided very definitely not to mix ourselves in local politics or general affairs otherwise we’d be swamped in a deluge of controversies political and financial. So I’ve had the opportunity to do a bit of sightseeing.
Yesterday afternoon I wandered thru the old Arab district – exceedingly dirty. The streets have been recently cleaned since the arrival of the British by our own Sanitary Dept. but still reek with the odour of the ages. In one of the little side streets I found a roof garden on the top of a “hotel”. Here were gathered a motley bunch of Arabs, seated on little wicker stools, smoking their pies thru long multicoloured tubes, taking an occasional drink of sweet Turkish coffee and enjoying a “cabaret” show consisting of several puppets manipulated by strings and some quick-fired repartee from the manipulators.
In the evening I set out on another solitary sight seeing tour. It was the eve of Schimini Hazadik, a unique Jewish holiday occurring half way between Pesach and Shevuoth. Accordingly I went into the old city and headed in the general direction of the Yemenite quarter, having been told that their celebration was most interesting. It is a purely superstitious holiday where in every locality the local saints and prophets are commemorated and pilgrimages are made to their graves. After getting thoroughly mixed in a labyrinth of streets with only a big white moon as a guide – I began to hear chanting and singing in the distance. Following the sound around corners and thru alley ways I finally came upon a little stone structure the top floor of which was literally covered with people. I found the steps and ascended. At the top women were pushing and fighting hither and thither. I asked several in English and German what it was all about. Finally a young man came out who could speak broken English, explained to me that they were celebrating the festival, but that two men inside had gotten into fight, and wouldn’t I settle the affair. I entered the room – it was apparently a little place of worship, I noticed the altar and the ark and Hebrew inscriptions. The room was overcrowded and at one end the two men were fighting. I pushed thru and pulled them apart – had each of them tell his grievance to my translator – one claimed that the other was singing too loud and noisily for a synagogue, the other said that he sung so because he was happy. I shook hands with the pair and duly shalomed them and order was restored. Thereupon I was given the seat of honor, compelled to drink wine and smoke cigarettes. Hung from the ceiling were a number of bowls filled with water and oil; a wick was in each. Suspended from them were little tags on which were written the names of the prophets and saints. I asked for an explanation of this but no one seemed to know exactly why – other than it was the day to worship and rejoice with the prophets. I had to light a bowl (Ezekiel was my prophet) and make an offering. I gave 50 piastres ($2.50) but was told that the maximum accepted was .20 P.T - this I’m sure is the first time in history that an institution refunded a contribution from a member of the Zionist Commission. After all the candles were lit they all started to clap their hands and sing. I took my translator with me when I left in order to guide me to civilization. I don’t believe I could ever find that place again.
Today there was another wedding in the Azmu – our Miss Schuman married some Capt. In the
Dr. F. and I then went to visit a hospital run by Dr. Wallach, a German. It is the only really honest medical institution in
I came near to going to
Yesterday morning I went toa reception by the Spanish Consul Counte de Ballabarin honor of his King’s birthday. Ben Avi went along. It was so formal that it was all form. We arrived at 11 A.M. and were cordially greeted by the Counte (he’s a rather young fellow) in his court costume covered with tags and medals. In his reception chamber a small group was gathered. Servants brought us champagne (imagine!) and little cakes, whereupon we proceeded to drink a standing toast to the King of Spain, Ben Avi making the appropriate remarks in French. People kept coming in and going thru the same performance – we watched for a short time before taking our departure. I envied the Count only in that he could drink to every toast – it was good champagne – but a tiresome proceeding. Before we left we had to sign our name in the registry book.
We are all grateful to Horace Callen* for the brilliant and emphatic manner in which he reputed that fellow Cohen in his April “
All goes well, lots of love & kisses,
Please tell Jones and Julia* that their letters give Dr. F. a tremendous amount of happiness. Several weeks ago Julia wrote that she has made too great a sacrifice to the cause in allowing him to leave
I’m writing at the desk in a palatial room – it is 10. 30 P.M. and Dr. F. is already asleep. The wind is howling around the corner and it is getting cold tho all day the weather was stifling.
*Callen Horace: - H. Kallen :- b.
*Karrites:- Jewish sect founded in the 8th centure C.E.; originally obeyed only Biblical injunctions, rejecting the Oral Law, i.e. Talmudic-Rabbinic development of Judaism.
*Jonas & Julia :- son & daughter of Dr. H. Friedenwald