Encountering Israel

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9. "Grace After Meals": placards at a roadside cafe, paired with painted portrait of Israel Abuhaseira, a sephardic rabbi thought to work miracles, Jordan Valley.<br />
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Inside a cafe next to abandoned military tanks I found this surreal conjunction of imagery. A painted portrait, eyes reflected in the stainless steel counter, was the prominent fixture. Printed handouts were displayed next to it, labeled "Birkat HaMazon," which in Hebrew means "Grace After Meals."<br />
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At the time, I had no idea who the turbaned man was in the imposing portrait. I thought he must be an Arab by the way he was dressed. And to add to my confusion, a dark-skinned waiter in the cafe was wearing a T-shirt that said "It Wasn't Me!" What was I to think? Nothing was as it seemed. Turns out the portrait is of a Moroccan Sephardic Rabbi named Israel Abuhaseira (1889-1984). Called "Baba Sali," this holy man and kabbalist was renowned for his alleged ability to work miracles.