Today I visited a church in Jerusalem that was open to the public as part of Houses from Within (more info below). I was in a light and happy mood. I had spent the morning on a tour of the Old City walls and was on my way to visit a Greek doctor’s house in the German Colony and then the Greek community center in the Greek Colony. Little did I know that my short stopover in the church would prove a traumatizing portion of my otherwise lovely Shabbat.

I walked around the complex and then up the outdoor stairs to the church. Upon entering, I paused in the empty hallway to peruse a brochure which explains a little about the building and its history.

As I stood there I noticed a clergyman stepping out of a doorway. He didn’t take his eyes off me as he walked towards me in his long black robe. Assuming he was part of the church, I gave him a little smile and said, “Hello, thank you for your hospitality.”

He put out his hand and said hello. He was of dark complexion (not fitting the Scottish stereotype in the least). In his strange and strong accent he asked me a couple of questions and then he asked me my name.

“Deena,” I said. “What is your name?”

He said a mix of sylables I’d never before heard.

He then started saying something which was difficult for me to decipher.

“You’re so bulablu.”


“You’re very buula.”


He came closer put out his hand to me again.

I took it.

He smiled, showing off one of his precious possessions: a golden tooth.

“You’re very beautiful,” he said.

Oh shit. Shitshitshitshitshitshit

Still holding my hand, he started leaning in towards me. Smiling and repeating that sentence, he looked at me in all his dark-skinned, golden-toothed, black-robed, foreigness.

My God [my God, not his], what is he about to do?!

He got so close.

I softly and quickly pulled my hand away, took a step back, nodded and walked into the church sanctuary.

There were only two Israeli men in the room who turned to leave as I entered. I thought, “The last thing I need is to be alone in this sanctuary right now,” and so I followed them and in Hebrew I explained the situation to them and said I was going to walk out of the building with them.

Once in the courtyard, I thanked them. I could see the creepy man walking towards the exit of the complex and so I waited until he was long gone and then I left, happy to get away.

Clothes really don’t say very much, do they.

Houses From Within

The church and all the other places I visited (and tours I joined) today were open as part of Jerusalem’s Houses From Within, the annual festival which makes unique 120 (or so) houses/buildings/places accessible to the public for one weekend a year.