Before I left Philadelphia, I told Ollie, the guy who cuts my hair to cut it really short in hopes that I could make it through my time in Israel without getting a haircut. I was wrong, because the other day when I woke up in the morning and saw myself in the mirror, it was like my hair had discovered it’s own freedom and was happy to be set free and decided to grow all over my head. I started to have flashbacks to what my dad’s hair looked like in the 70’s. I thought to myself, “I can wear a baseball cap,” but then I had flashes of images in my head of black baseball players in the 70’s and 80’s and decided that wasn’t going to work either and the best solution was to find someone to cut my hair, but where and by whom.
I’m a black woman, living in a very Ashkenazi aka white community in Jerusalem. When it comes to hair, this alone can bring out a lot of issues that many black women in American can relate to. Another issue is that I do not fit neatly into gender norms and Jerusalem is a city, where it seems to me as an outsider, has very specific ideas of how men and women should look. Women dress one way, men dress another. Women have long hair, cover their hair or wear wigs and it is the men who have short hair.
In my online search for either a salon or barber shop, I noticed that some places, were labeled unisex, and these places seemed to be the safest bet. I found a salon close to my apartment and after a very long day of classes, I dragged my roommate Ariel with me on my hair cutting adventure, looking for this salon.
I never actually found the salon (I copied the wrong address) and instead popped my head into Moris Hair Design, where I met Yaron and Moris. I walked into their salon in the evening, introduced myself to both of the them and when I shook Yaron’s hand, his hand was so warm and his face was so kind. I’m sure my face looked pretty pathetic and I said to him almost pleading “Can you cut my hair?” Yaron stated, he was about to leave and could not cut my hair that night but assured me he could do it the next day. Yaron and Moris were both so nice to me and I loved their energy, I just wanted to hangout with them.
I did go back the next day and Yaron did cut my hair and did an fabulous job, but this is not a review of the salon instead this is about connecting with people.
One of the beautiful things that I love about living in Jerusalem are the random opportunities that I have had to make real connections with people. People whom I would probably have never met if I had made a different choice. Yaron was kind, funny and warm and I trusted him and let him work his magic on my hair and during this time he told me about his wife and his daughter and the baby on the way. And I told him about my wife and how she’s at home in Philadelphia and how much I miss her We shared stories, pictures of spouses, children and dogs and I left his salon feeling like I had made a new friend.
I believe a stranger is someone I haven’t met. We are commanded by the divine to welcome the stranger Before I met Yaron we were strangers only because we had not yet met. Now we are friends, I understand now that by welcoming each other into our hearts and our lives we are making a connection that brings us closer to the divine. Shabbat Shalom