Monday, June 16, 2008

To drink Cafe Rimon

It is a bit hot, true. Still, in winter or summer, we are more and more "coffee-shop, cafeteria visitors" to have a drink or two or many of all sorts ordered in simple or sophisticated cafes. There are the tea and water with mint (nana) addicted, choko and limonada or any other mitz/fruit juice drinkers. Cafe is special. It can be the Turkish aka Arabic aka Greek cafe in a very small cup with some 'el*על - cardamom. Or, people suddenly rush out of their office, women have a standing up with some friends in the street and smoke a cigarette while men would buy small carton hand-packs with one or two covered cafe cups, eventually accompanied by some delicatessen, cookies, ugiyot...

It is important to drink. Waters are best. In the past few years, it became a game in Israel and Palestine to count the sudden sprinkling of new mineral water sources. Bottles of all shapes: twisting plastic to baby-like nursing bottles. Still, coffee is Oriental. Some Georgian "hvino" that switched to Turkish "kahveh", i.e. wine to dark cafe? Or a South Yemenite grain from the Ethiopian Kaffa that, like reggae raps over the map and rules with taste over our throats. Cafe is Italian: raw and refined, drops of heat, mostly, with some cold exceptions. Hot, sensual, refreshing and ever-thirsting with smells and scents. "Li shtot kafe - לשתות קפה - Have a cup of coffee" consists in inviting a boy or a girl friend for some heart-to-heart emotional talks and more, if any. Jews are "hacking dem chaynik", let tea kettle or samovar boil overheat. Cafe keeps you strong, in a full-hormonally harmony stand of alertness, wit and happiness.

Thus we are very very "shosho", contacting in principle ("shosholizing / socializing" in South African multicultural speech). In the decade, cafes, cafeterias, coffee-shops have burgeoned everywhere, in particular in Jerusalem, victoriously overcoming the terror-attacks in the famous pedestrian mall streets (Ben-Yehuda, Cafe Hillel, Le Moment). Cafe Rimon is special in this present shosho-experience.

I have always been a cafe fly, from Scandinavia to the Ukraine, France, Paris and Geneva and, of course Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The true roots are to be found in the Wiener Stimmung - the Viennese atmosphere - that slowly flies away from Teddy Kollek's and the Central European imprint on Jerusalem. At the present, Jerusalem runs Japanese sushi, Hindu Deli and opens coffee-shops in Mamilla new style. And this creates a ricochet series in the Old City, at Jaffa Gate, with new estraminets like the Grand Cafe ("sensuellement votre") or "Versace" (on Pontius Pilatus milestone) under the Imperial Hotel. Yes, Rimon was a must a Mamilla.

Cafe Rimon opened in 1953 in the very en vogue Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall that goes from Luntz St. to Rehov Yafo. It is large, there is room, two floors, a "bassari/fleischik, meat/ section and a 'halavi/dairy". After the terror attack that killed 11 people in 2002, there are separation barrier and plants between the cafe-restaurant and the street all along through the corner where a body guard is present since 1997. Cafe Rimon is trendy in many specific ways. A cocktail of young and nice waitresses, hugging each others and others others all the time; black dressed, curly look, often funny tennis shoes covered with socks... The managing girls or blossoming women are rather fashion, fitness, fitness controlling the staff's fitness. They wear rings, robes and move around foxy though kosher look. Trendy: permanent updates of the service, heart-talks, development of table and chairs strategic transfers. As in most Israeli places, no office: discussions are conducted openly and aloud in the presence of the clients, at some table or standing in the area. At the bar, the personnel receives some food or beverage all the time and their cell phones ring constantly in a joyous atmosphere. This is forward: the client is at home and the personnel is more than at home. This is a general basic rule. Everywhere. Still, Rimon usually requires quality of service. When I show at the end of the end, a glass is always breaking somehow, nu... "Scherben bringen Glueck - glass breaking brings luck/maz'l". The whole atmosphere is "easy-doing is easy and pleasing for the staff and the clients".

Cafe Rimon is also important because it has always kept Arab Israeli workers. When an excellent worker suddenly projected to poison the clients with a recipe described online by the Hamas Internet server in 2001, the question was real: to maintain or to fire all the Arab workers. Ronen Rimon decided to keep the mixer. Today, this should be called - with some insights into the future - a "sense of Israelity". This is an immense and courageous challenge for the future that requires some intelligence. In Jerusalem restaurants, some Arab workers do write their names in the stones of the walls to attest that they are at home.

Some Jews - whatever orientation could be far more dangerous and irresponsible against the Jewish people and State. Sixty years means that we are young as a State; the workers of all ethnicity are much younger! With regards to the Arabs, it is a fact that they are present everywhere. As everywhere in the world, they are excellent at cooking, present in various professions and are of the same age as their Jewish Israeli co-workers. The "shosho-experience" provokes everywhere some sort of "side encounter between Jews and non-Jews, Arab and Jewish Israelis. Cafe Rimon shows that perfectly with a touch of Ethiopian security guard.

This shows as the possible consequence of a positive lesson given by the projected poisoning and the terror attack itself. One Arab manager and many workers are much appreciated in a context of apparent loose security system. There is a cultural difference of attitude: as in most Arab places, the staff is always willing to know what happens and what the clients do. Jews usually don't care. This is a constant point of soft tension between the management and the cleaners who are mostly Arab.

The important point at Cafe Rimon is that the Arab and Jewish staff work in places that mirror the international aspect of the Israeli society. An Ethiopian woman cook at Rimon-Mamilla will be hugged as her children the same way as the Russian security people are accepted. Then Arabs and Jews work in a restaurant that is much appreciated for the quality of its kosher food and cooking. It is a real pending cooking sheilah/question, but still, in Israel, it is a must, at the present, for people that non-Jews may prepare kosher meals. There is a real knowhow in feeding the Jewish religious people. It would be sad that Arab or some local seemingly non-Jewish clients may feel apart.

Cafe Rimon's feature is to be found inthe spiritual aspect of special places in Jerusalem and Israel. Cafes or restaurants have for long been places of encounter for opposed actors in Israeli society. Cafes have something of a neshama/soul and ruchanut/reflections. Some develop into theaters or jazz and pop music on certain days. The very nature of Rimon is to be like the fruit: it refers to a weapon, a delicious local juice and to the Oriental rimonim that clings over the Torah Scrolls.

Av Aleksandr

Irena Gapkovska wrote
at 1:16am
in Macedonia we used to have similar teashops in old city with special aspect for having a coffee as ritual with specific social manner ( the place where artist is only a part of urban myths..unfortunately cause of the ethical tensions raised after the civil war in 2001..
Av Aleksandr wrote
at 1:22am
I know. i mainly refer to the special location and different spcificities of this place in Jerusalem. it underlines that ethnies do work and live together, whatever. then, personally, i always have been willing to open a "spiritual cafe". I am convinced it makes sense in Israel. we have, in the Old City a famous hummus small shop. every shabbat, jews and arab youths have been meeting since the war started again to continue to share and eat together. it is great.
my concern is more to set up something.
dobra noch
Irena Gapkovska wrote
at 1:26am
I agree with you mine concern is same..We have Albanians who live in that place of the city, and that coffee shop used to gather all people in one is question how we can overcome the differences especially after the war...
Av Aleksandr wrote
at 1:33am
i am also very prudent with "clericalization" and systematic "church fencing". here lived the first christians and they used to pray in caves in the desert or open pray in streets. we are afraid and this is no good. i often celebrate in the desert in summer but then some miss the "building", they forget that appeared later.
now, this is maybe the biggest spiritual point in my own life, believers are born to pardon = atone = at-one(-ment) = become one, even in unbelievable situation, and this is the service of the Church to help to sustain that or get to that.
Irena Gapkovska wrote
at 1:57am
church fencing that's is exactly the paradox we are facing in todays.. we are afraid and that is sign of lack of faith...Christianity has a lot with forgiveness embracing all humans with love and compassion... one of the command our lord say is to "love your enemies"....but that is whole mystery...and more than deep philosophy...

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