SO I was getting coffee this morning at the Starbuck's on LaBrea and Beverly, which is near a Hasidic/Modern Orthodox neighborhood. There was an orthodox girl and her Mother talking to a man who was disheveled, a little dirty, and sitting outside. He was instructing the little girl in something, though I'm not sure what. They were all smiling. The Mother said goodbye and thank you, and then the man said "Baruch Ha Shem," which kind of surprised me. And made me smile.
-- A little side, Baruch Ha Shem means "Blessed be the name". It is the name of God, just "the name", as how can you know the unknowable, and how can you name the unnameable? It's one of my favorite things about Judaism. In Hasidic lore, there is also a strong tradition of the beggar/holy man. Anyhow....
This man was on the line; I wasn't sure if he was homeless, or just eccentric. If so, he was more than likely a neighborhood eccentric. One of the things I love about living in a big city is this mix of cultures. Although there are always specific enclaves, people have to mix at some point. And as we always hear about anger and hatred, because it makes good news, it's important to remember how much people actually laugh, learn, and respect each other--if not on an global level, then a personal one, where all the important changes are made. The other day, in fact, I was driving down Melrose, and there were two Hassids admiring the Harley Davidsons of a couple of bikers, while a tight jeaned blonde woman with a hip cocked out to traffic looked on. In my review mirror was her backside, looking like a sillhouette on a mudflap, standing near two Hasidic men smiling and listening to a biker talk about his ride.
So back to Starbucks, I got my coffee, following another young bewigged Orthodox mother in a long skirt pushing a baby carriage. As I walked out the door, the man was getting up to cross Beverly, half-smoked cigarette in one hand and paper in the other. He turned around as a petite dark-haired girl was walking toward the door. "That is a cute dress!" he yelled, visibly suprsing her. "Thank you", she said a little cagily. It was, for the record, a cute dress. I smiled, almost laughing, and he turned back around to see if there was a space for him to cross the street.