I’ll start by gladly announcing: I finally found my apartment! It is only 500 steps away from the 14Y. I counted! Soon I will be able to call this place home, and even though it’s not huge, for me it’s a place, my own kingdom.
To gain control over that realm I needed to “pull the sword from the rock,” like King Arthur did. But unlike the legendary ruler, I used the generous assistance of Ryan Garson and Jason Angrist, awesome brokers who did everything to help me navigate in the jungle of code words like “Landlord,” “Security Fee,” and “Guarantor.”
Now that I’m liberated from the apartment hunt, there are two things on my mind. One is thinking about you—the people of the 14Y that I will encounter. What are your needs and values? What do you hope to achieve this year, and how can we work together to do this?
The second thought, is a retrospective on the process of finding the apartment. Why is that bureaucracy necessary? I came to the conclusion that what stands behind it is the basic human need for trust.
I recognized a fear of damaged property (in this case, real estate) that reflects on a larger theme: in the capitalist society the property is a means by which we gain liberty, or luxuries. After all, without acquiring bills of Abe Lincoln or Andrew Jackson how could we purchase food to keep us alive, clothes to protect us from weather, and a bed to sleep on?
Frankly, at the end of the day it’s all about existence. Both the landlord who’s making sure his property is in good hands, and me as I try to find a safe haven that will charge me with fresh energies.
My concerns over existence is what Rabbi Amichai Lau talked about in the last inspiring Lab/Shul Session, Sabbath queen at Mount Sinai Congregation in Brooklyn. Rabbi Lau said that the title used to describe God in Judaism, “Adonai,” is a male form, while the kabbalists made up another name, Havaya (הוויה), one of the Hebrew words for existence, a genderless description of God.
As a non-religious Jewish Israeli, I always treated the name for God, Adonai, as a fact of life, just like gravity or H20. Yet Lau’s insights managed to open a window in my mind that changed the way I look at deities, and how we as humans interpret them. Havaya is our own life, thoughts, dreams, and emotions. It is something so collective to all human beings from every religion, ethnicity or gender. And yet, the definition itself of Havaya comes from a very Jewish context.
(Photo Credit: Far Left by Gal Itzhak; All others by Alexandra Levin)
Finding a home, a shelter, is indeed a very Jewish thing to do. As branches of my family found a home in Israel, the land they perceived as an historical homeland, so did millions of Jews in New York and America as a whole who escaped from persecution and discrimination. As they did back then, so do many refugees today in a reality that is getting more complex in terms of religion, security, and race relations.
This whole analysis reminds me how privileged I am in my current situation in comparison to these people, and to many Jewish generations in the past who also created this vibrant downtown community.
To conclude my message, I would like to share with you two songs that are constantly playing in my head:
Blizkreig Bop by The Ramones, NYC Punk Pioneers.
Their song fits the intense rhythm of life in Manhattan, and is a motivating call: Hey Ho, Let’s Go!
Na Ve Nad by the Israeli Hip Hop Due Cohen @ Mushon | כהן@מושון – נע ונד
The song name means Moving and Wandering, which expresses my general experience of looking for a home.
I’m walking in the streets
I’m moving and wandering
Marking my locations as I’m moving and wandering
You are at one place
I’m moving and wandering
Introduce me to your favorite spots. Love sports? Music? Let’s go to a football game or a show together!
Cohen @ Mushon is an Israeli Hip Hop Duo from Tel Aviv, Israel. Mushon is actually a short for Michael Moshonov, an actor, rapper and the son of famous Israeli actor Moni Moshonov. The duo are unique in their tendency to sample Israeli rock classics from the 1970’s, especially Arik Einstein, who was a personal friend of Mushon’s father.
You can listen to them here. To me, Cohen @ Mushon is the Israeli equivalent of A Tribe Called Quest.