90 women were in my dorm. Order was maintained via regulations. Quiet time at 2100 hours. Lights out at 2230 hours. Reveille at 0500 hours. Mandatory chapel at 0800 hours or you could get off the property.
This was my ‘house’ for 31 nights. I had one bucket of belongings, half for clothes and half for toiletries.
For $10 USD per night, I received: shelter, a 10-minute shower, 3 meals of carbs, toiletries, and chapel.
This is one of the better breakfasts. 3 meals a day were available, provided you were in line at the correct time. Most meals were 3-5 servings of carbohydrates. Occasionally, we got a banana and dinner would also include a meat, usually a stew.
Every evening, we waited in line to enter the building and to be searched. Then we waited in another line to get dinner. Then we waited in another line to enter the dormitories and to be searched again. Then we waited in another line to get a 10 minute shower. In the morning, we waited in line for a housekeeping chore, and then for breakfast. By 8 am, I took off running or else I would be forced to attend chapel. There were lots of other lines, too: lines to pay for the week, lines to use the washer and dryer, lines to ask for a pass, lines to use a pass, lines for the weekly doctor mobile… Every service was gained only by waiting in line. We calculated that we spent nearly 4 hours a day waiting in lines, which made it nearly impossible to look for work. Either you got fed or you applied for jobs, not both.
But the shelter kept us clean and safe, and provided a sense of belonging to a community. I met some really nice ladies in the homeless shelter, and they were genuinely joyful for me when I announced that my family was taking me in. Betty tried one last time to get me to accept that guy as my personal savior. She said that I had been sent to the shelter to hear her message that I could be saved by him. I listened politely for at least ten minutes because Betty is a very kind woman. Then I respectfully told her that maybe the message was for me to give to her and that message is to stop trying to convert Jews. I gave my shpiel again, “God made the world with perfect order so that every one and every thing could serve Him. There are commandments for women and commandments for men. There are commandments for in the Land of Israel, for outside the Land, for only when the Temple stood, for only inside the Temple, for only the 7th year, for only the Jubilee Year. There are commandments for you and other commandments for me. God made everything with order so that all of creation could serve Him together… and it would be perfect. But I really appreciate your concern for me. ”
I felt badly leaving her with her cognitive dissonance still intact, but at least we had been friendly neighbors. Alice, my other neighbor, gave me a great piece of parting advice. She said, “People who are not moving in the same direction as you, cut them loose. You do not need them to be part of your life.”
Wow. It’s true. I am trying to move forward – forward in kiddusha (holiness), forward to clean up my domestic messes, forward towards optimism. I want travel companions who will support me and encourage me. (This also includes my evil twin alterego who speaks words of failure to me. She has got to go!)
I survived a whole month in a homeless shelter, and I am proud of myself. I got tested and I remained versatile and flexible. These are the two main qualities that a person must have in order to survive in Israel, flexibility and versatility, and I still got it. Yeah me!
May Moshiach come and save us all from poverty, hunger, disease, and war.
Flexible – able to be bent without breaking, willing to yield and adapt
Versatile – capable of many uses, willing to adapt from one task to another
“Last Look at the Homeless Shelter.” is copyright © 2014 by Poorkitteh. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
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