Monday, October 6, 2008

Not Letting The Light Go Out

Eliezer: Madu, you will go to church today?

Zac/Madu: No.

E: But today is Sunday, and on Sunday all Christians go to church. You should go to church today.

Z: I am not Christian. I am Jewish. We’ve been over this already.

E: I do not understand. You do not pray at the church, you do not pray at the mosque. So where do you pray?

Z: I… um… I pray at my house - alone… all the time.

E: You should not pray alone. You should pray with the Christian s every Sunday.

Z: In the holy book of the Jews - which you call the Old Testament, it says that you can pray with other people and it is also okay to pray by yourself.

E: How do your Jewish peoples pray?

Z: Some very strict Jewish people pray only in the language of the ancient Hebrews. They pray at the synagogue together, but the men sit in the front and the women sit in the back. They are called "Orthodox".

E: Do all Jewish people speak Hebrew?

Z: No, I sure don't. There are some Jewish people who pray together at the synagogue Hebrew and in English, and the women can sit with the men. They are called “Conservative” or “Reform.”

E: Is that how you pray?

Z: No. I am the only Jew in Diaramana, so there is no one who can do Jewish prayers with me.

E: Then how do you do your Jewish prayers?

Z: Well… um… at nighttime when I am all alone sometimes I burn some incense, and I light a candle. Then I read the Torah, or I sit on the ground and think very hard about whether I am doing the right things in life, about people in Mali and in America, and I try very harder to think about everything in the Universe all at once. When I pray I do not say a word, I only think. Sometimes when I pray I listen to Ravi Shankar on my iPod. Sometimes while I pray I lie on the ground and stretch my body.

E: You white people are very strange.

Z: Yes.

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