Friday, May 18, 2007

Flip your lid redux

As T. and I look towards August and start planning our vacation, I am reminded of an intensely meaningful interfaith encounter we had last summer. We traveled through central and western New York (the banner on top of my blog is from a picture I took of a sculpture at the Corning Museum of Glass), entered Canada in Niagara, and drove up to Niagara-on-the-Lake (a jaunt Winston Churchill rightly called the prettiest Sunday drive in the world), a pretty, quaint town with shops, bed & breakfasts, and three theaters, all surrounded by orchards and vineyards.

We caught a play, The Magic Fire, at the annual Shaw Festival (as in George Bernard), and stayed at a B&B. We like staying at B&Bs on our travels- prices can be comparable to the cloned hotel rooms you'll find in any city, but they are so much more cozy and interesting. (Explaining kashrut to the hosts is a separate story.) The one we stayed at in NOTL was actually the hosts' house. The family of four lived in the basement and the upstairs was for (paying) guests. The hostess is Sri Lankan and had worked for many years in Dubai at Jumeirah's Burj-Al-'Arab, the best hotel in the world. There she met her husband, who is also in the hospitality industry.

They decided to semi-retire and moved to NOTL, opening up her B&B. She is a Muslima (but is not an Arab) and over the course of our stay, she kept wondering why the Jews and Muslims have such conflict if we can all get along under her roof. She knew about kashrut because she keeps halal. She told us how she wakes up at 3:30 every morning to pray and prepare a scrumptious breakfast. In the afternoon, I told her we also pray and asked her which direction is East. She directed me towards the Kaaba. Close enough.

As we checked out out the next morning after breakfast, she stopped us and turned to me. With great anticipation and trepidation she inquired whether she could ask me something about Judaism. I always welcome opportunities for us to learn about each other and I acquiesced. She asked me, with all the serious curiosity of a seven-year-old, "How do you keep that little hat on your head?"

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