Unusual Beach Encounter

Trip Start Mar 01, 2012
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Israel  , Tel Aviv District,
Monday, August 20, 2012

I just had the strangest encounter with a Hassidic Jewish man at the beach. I was in the water in the northern most end of the beach I usually go to because that's where all the dogs swim :) It is right next to the religious beach, which is separated by a wooden fence that doesn't extend very far into the sea. This man had drifted quite far from that beach and approached me. I don't remember exactly how we got on the topic, but he very candidly told me he was struggling with the constraints of his religion and was leading a double life. He said that sometimes at night he puts his long sidelocks under a hat and goes out clubbing! He said it makes him look like a hippy.
I incorrectly assumed that he wasn't supposed to drink, so when I asked him what about his nighttime escapades was prohibited by his religion, I was surprised to hear that he wasn't supposed to touch (or talk to!) women. I knew that the sexes were separated during prayer and had read about segregated buses, but for some reason I hadn't made the connection. (This explains why the Hassidic man that I asked for directions in Jerusalem helped me but said very little.)
He said that he was young and had lots of "energy." Think that may translate to a need to sow some oats... I said that I guessed that was why Orthodox Jews typically marry so young- so they don't have to restrain themselves for so long. I was surprised to hear that he was just 27. He looked so much older! He already has three kids. His wife knows about his after hours activities.
He was clearly troubled by his internal conflict. He said that only his closest friends knew about his alternative lifestyle. He couldn't tell his family. I have no idea why he told me.
The sun had sunk into the sea and there was a gorgeous sunset and a waxing crescent moon. A little too romantic for me and a conflicted Jewish man! I bid him goodnight and rode my bike into the Tel Aviv sunset.
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