I have spent the last five nights in the homeless shelter in Dallas, Texas and I am shocked to report that I feel joyful. Plus, I get a 10- minute shower every night, so I am clean. I have fresh undies on, and a cute outfit. There is nothing about me that gives away the fact that I am homeless; and when I go into a shop, no-one gives me any trouble for loitering – which I am. I am loitering. We can’t access our dorm between the hours of 7:45 am and 3:45 pm. It is actually exactly the same rule as most youth hostels, certainly the same as the hostels that I have stayed at in Belgium, Antwerpen, Heidelberg, and Nuremberg. (But not Amsterdam. Nobody sleeps in Amsterdam!)
I have two problems with the homeless shelter where I am living. Well, three actually, if you count the lack of nutritious food. The first problem I have is with their mission statement, and the second is that I do not want to appear ungrateful. I am very appreciative of everything they offer me.
Again, please don’t misunderstand me. I am so grateful and appreciative not to be, God forbid, living under a bridge or something. Hashem would never do that to me. He sent me to a homeless shelter, but it’s the safest, cleanest shelter around. The women live on one floor and the single men live on a different floor. The shelter propaganda says, “You did not come here to find a boyfriend; therefore, fraternizing will get you evicted.” And it’s true. I am not the only lady who doesn’t want men on our floor. As soon as a man sets foot on our floor, the call goes out “Man on the floor” and it gets relayed like an old-fashioned fire drill. I feel safe there. I am also grateful that they insist on cleanliness. Residents must take showers and wash their clothes in the machines. Almost nobody smells badly there, unlike at the neighboring shelters that have no rules.
That is the main reason why people choose to stay at the other shelters. This shelter has literally dozens of rules and a 3-strike policy. Other shelters give you free reign. But as someone who is just passing thru, I can take the totalitarianism of this shelter’s system. Oddly enough, living in Israel prepared me to follow cumbersome, bureaucratic rules. Remember, every Israeli, son or daughter, served in the military and the country operates with that in mind. Both at work and in the public sector (ie. doar, bank, clinic), I learned to obey a military hierarchy, even though I was too old for actual military service. (Yes, we do have a situation with the Hareidim in the IDF.)
‘My’ shelter is run by Southern Baptists whose mission statement declares that I can only improve my situation by accepting that I am a filthy sinner who needs a savior, and that savior is you-know-who. This is very problematic for me. My Jewish philosophy is this:
1. I do commit sins, probably every day; however, I am not filthy and God loves me. As the more positive Xtians say, “God doesn’t make ugly.”
2. I am not homeless because of sin. The Mind of Hashem is unfathomable to me. Who am I to ask why He did this?
3. Only The King decides who will be homeless, when it will start, and when it will end. The people at the shelter ascribe this power to Satan. The Torah says they are incorrect and so do I. Hashem felt I needed this, so I endure it calmly. Whatever. This too shall pass.
4. When Hashem says so, He will move me to a loving home with family. Actually, people have started offering to pay my passage home to Israel, which is $1,100 USD. I am afraid to do this yet because I will still be penniless when I get home. If I can tough it out in America for hopefully only 3 more months, my crappy ex-husband will have to buy me out of our marital house and I will be able to go home with at least 4 months worth of rent money. This is what I want to do. I want to go home to Israel, but not empty handed.
5. They force me to go to chapel 3 times a week. This is a direct spiritual threat to me and frightens me. Do you know that here in Dallas I frequently hear African-Americans saying out-loud that “The Jews killed Jesus.” ? I feel very threatened. Do they blame me specifically for something? Is my life in danger? The thing that I find truly ignorant about this pov is that according to their dogma, he needed to be killed in order to become a savior for them, and that is why he went to his death willingly. If he doesn’t get killed, they have no savior. Therefore, if Rivka the Jew is responsible for killing him, then aren’t I also responsible for giving them a savior? I just don’t understand their mindless anger directed at Jews.
AND THEY FRIGHTEN ME. When I ultimately get outed, what are they going to do to me? Will I just get extra chores or will they throw me to the drug dealers?
Despite these spiritual attacks and more, my physical body is being well taken care of. I find it really funny that Hashem put me in the “Princess Version” of a homeless shelter. Yesterday, we had red velvet cupcakes with icing at dinner and yummy croissants at breakfast. They gave me a new toothbrush and little bottles of hotel shampoo. Really, sometimes I feel pampered. I seriously doubt that other homeless women in America are having the shelter experience that I am. I am not ungrateful, not to them nor to Hashem.
הי רעי לא אחסר.
The Lord is my Shepherd; I lack nothing.
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