Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ruth Blau - רות בלויא, Part 2


Ruth Blau (Bloi) was the second wife of the formerly well - known head of Jerusalem's Neturei Karta, Rabbi Amram Blau. Most facts about the two are already known but now I got hold of Ruth's autobiography published in 1979 (in Hebrew). The French original version of the book is called "Les Guardiens de la Cite" and the Hebrew translation is named "Shomrei Ha'Ir - שומרי העיר".

This is the second part of me putting together the content of Ruth's book. 
The first part you can read HERE


In 1950, Ruth decided to convert to Judaism. She writes in her book that she found G - d's unity in the Torah. The harmony between body and soul in humans.
Even before her actual conversion, she visited Israel.

There was only one Mikveh (ritual bath) in Paris in 1951. Her son Claude was ten years old when him and his mother converted to Judaism. Claude was born on October 1, 1940; just a few days before Rosh HaShana. After their conversion, Claude became URIEL and Madeleine became RUTH (ben David). The conversion itself took place in Paris. Afterwards Ruth again went to visit Israel where she stayed with the Goldman family in Jerusalem. However, she writes that this time, she didn't leave Jerusalem during her entire stay. Someone had told her to go and see Mea Shearim which she did. Her first impression of the ultra - Orthodox neighbourhood was negative: Mea Shearim is a ghetto where people live like a hundred years ago. The inhabitants look dirty and are religious fundamentalists. After all, she admits that this way of life arouse her curiosity because she liked old things and folklore. Ruth's description: I entered a whole new world. The married frum women of Mea Shearim covered their hair with a Midpachat (Yiddish: Haube) which was worn tight over the head.

On her first Mea Shearim visit she was accompanied by a French couple who were more interested in making pictures and basically thought that all inhabitants are fanatics. Ruth, however, realized that those "fanatics" actually follow the way of Torah. She decided to return to the neighbourhood alone. This time, her visit was longer and she felt that something deep in her soul was dragging her into this particular neighbourhood.

Mea Shearim was built on top of a hill and its heart was (still is) the local market. The neighbourhood mainly consisted of two - floor buildings where people lived. Yeshivot, Synagogues, shops and some small rooms where chickens were schaechtet (slaughtered). Ruth went into one of the houses around the market and saw the poverty of the inhabitants. Everything was black and full of garbage cans.

To her, Mea Shearim looked as if no one cared about the outside but the people rather concentrated on their inner lifes. Can there be a need for a nice and beautiful neighbourhood when you spritual life is a mess ?

Those Jews don't need to be ashamed, Ruth thought. The new State of Israel stresses the solidarity of its citizens. The Jews stuck together and helped each other but about their own religion. The modern State of Israel considered the Jewish religion as part of the ancient ghettos back in Europe. The Zionists wanted a State of Israel for the Jews but not with the "old" religion. The only thing they wanted was a state where the Jews could live without suffering from anti - Semitism. During her first visit in Israel none of her friends had ever bothered to shown her a Synagogue. Obviously the spirit of the modern Jewish State of Israel.

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