Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Road Goes Ever On and On...

Bat Ayin - a beautiful, natural, organic, glowy-flowy enclave of the Eco-Torah hippie lifestyle located in the beautiful Gush area southeast of Jerusalem.

Staying in the home of Rebbetzin Chana Bracha Siegelbaum, who is the head of the Midreshet B'erot Bat Ayin, an educational program for women and the author of "Women at the Crossroads,"  a woman's perspective on the weekly Torah portions. Her home is just as glowy-flowy and beautiful as one would expect of the woman who singlehandedly defined the "Bat Ayin Woman" look, lifestyle and (if I can be so bold to say) the actual nusach of the Orthodox "Natural Woman," in her own image and the image of her vision of the modern (as in modern-day, not in modern attitudes) Orthodox (but not Haredi) woman.

When I say "glowy/flowy" I'm NOT denigrating the look OR the lifestyle, believe me! The Bat Ayin woman dresses modestly and gloriously - long flowing skirts and dresses, many light layers of cotton, wool (in Winter - that is, if we ever HAVE a winter again) and natural fabrics - colorful, feminine, lovely, and 100% Kosher - i.e. you won't see a married woman here without her hair covered (in the Bat Ayin Style which looks best on women whose hair resembles Marge Simpson's conical "do" - and if you don't have a tower of hair to wrap up in a colorful shawl or tichel you can BUILD volume with more scarves!), you won't see a young lady here in pants, you won't see (thankfully) women in dark, thick polyester suits and cable-knit stockings on a day where temperatures top 100 degrees. Simply for having solved - in a creative, beautiful way - what I've been calling "The Frum Fashion Problem" - Chana Bracha deserves a medal. For having created an entire culture of learning, growth and positive reinforcement of women, she deserves much more.

Yesterday (although I arrived late) I got to visit the Bat Ayin OUTLET store and scored on some much-needed clothing (the prices were CRIMINALLY LOW, come here for the shopping if nothing else!) and then had a leisurely & delicious dinner (home-made chicken soup, wine and sauteed vegetables with meat/pea patties ... ummmm!) with my old friend Sara Talia Webb, who LITERALLY lives in a Hobbit-Hole in Bat Ayin - a very charming machsan (storage shed) built into a hillside which is only accessible by following a narrow rocky path down, down, down until you think you're about to hit the riverbed - and then: voila! Instant coziness created by Sara Talia's warm and welcoming, loving spirit. Such nachas! After dinner she took me to visit another old friend, Shaul Judelman and his new kallah Shayna Liebe (Ashley Greenspoon), who live out literally - LITERALLY - at the edge of nowhere. A perfect place for honeymooners to create their own nest!

So I'm off to explore for a short time, then the next stage of my road trip will begin ... who knows where I'll end up? (OK, I think I know, but you know ... YOU NEVER KNOW!)

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
- Bilbo Baggins