My Barber, My Book — and The Temple Mount

Could a Jersey Hairdresser Answer Question About Jerusalem?

Jerusalem: Ruchama King Feuerman needed to find out whether there are bathrooms on the Temple Mount for her book, ‘In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist.
Getty Images
Jerusalem: Ruchama King Feuerman needed to find out whether there are bathrooms on the Temple Mount for her book, ‘In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist.

By Ruchama King Feuerman

Published November 03, 2013, issue of November 08, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 5 of 5)

He said, “Maybe one or two.”

“That’s all?” I said, feeling stupidly disappointed. The character in my novel, Mustafa, came from a poor village and experienced terrible hardship. He laughed. “They have a nice, big house. They do very well.”

“Okay, but what about your other uncles and aunts. I’m sure they must live in cramped quarters.”

Again he chuckled. “They all do very nicely, make excellent livings. They also don’t have to pay taxes like the Israelis.” He gently poked fun of me. “You’re like all the others who think Arabs live terrible lives in Israel. It’s a fantastic country. I can’t wait to go back.”

Finally, I asked about the bathroom.

“Sure,” he said. “There are definitely bathrooms.”

No hesitation. I was stunned by this simple declaration. “Really?” I was so excited. Bathrooms — in plural. “What do they look like?”

“Twelve at a bunch. Finished toilets, pretty, some white, some blue. Some marble floors.” The details came spewing forth. Such a man I believed. I whooped. I wished I could hug my bathroom verifier. I went back to writing my novel and Mustafa went back to mopping bathrooms.

Now all these years and revisions later, my son doesn’t get his haircuts at Waleed’s anymore. My husband bought a kit and cuts our child’s hair himself. Waleed’s barber shop is still right next to my husband’s office on Main Street. I am tempted to walk in and tell him, “Pssst. Waleed, there is a bathroom up there. There really is.”

I still wonder why there was so much confusion and dissension about the bathroom’s existence. Perhaps my question touched a nerve. We have our lower halves — the parts that go to the bathroom, and upper halves — the parts that pray. And never the twain shall meet? Maybe I’ll find out the most definitive answer once I start going on my book tour.

Sometimes I catch a glimpse of Waleed through the window of his shop, LA. Hair Design, cutting the hair of the little Orthodox boys of Passaic and making sure not to shave the sideburns, according to Jewish law. He is devoted. Really, I think. Why say anything?

Ruchama King Feuerman’s new novel, “In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist,” was published as an e-book last month by the New York Review of Books.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "If Netanyahu re-opens the settlement floodgates, he will recklessly bolster the argument of Hamas that the only language Israel understands is violence."
  • Would an ultra-Orthodox leader do a better job of running the Met Council?
  • So, who won the war — Israel or Hamas?
  • 300 Holocaust survivors spoke out against Israel. Did they play right into Hitler's hands?
  • Ari Folman's new movie 'The Congress' is a brilliant spectacle, an exhilarating visual extravaganza and a slapdash thought experiment. It's also unlike anything Forward critic Ezra Glinter has ever seen. http://jd.fo/d4unE
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.