In the background.

I allowed my mind to explore the possibilities because I couldn’t immediately justify the scene I was spying.

It was Aroma in the mall, at one of the tables outside the store. The girl was probably 17, wearing the cafe’s uniform and looking tired. She held up a cell phone and was showing the man across the table the screen. He was probably in his 40s or 50s, long, thick gray-white beard. A big, solid guy in a black suit, white button-down shirt and black hat.

They were sitting across from each other, but leaning in pretty close, though speaking from a distance, peering at the cell phone screen. His eyes cared.

How could they possibility be related? It was a puzzle my mind, and though fried by 3p.m., decided to decode.

The best answer I have: He is her charedi uncle, she left her charedi home to pursue her preferred lifestyle, and he met with her in a safe zone (for her) to keep the kesher going.

And there I am, the Israeli, putting everyone in a box, making sense of the nonsensical.

Or maybe it’s just this ethnography class I’m taking.






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