You might remember my post last week from Palestine, in which I described how Aziz Abu Sarah, our Palestinian tour guide, put on my kippah in order to enter the Jewish-only section of Hevron.
Now Aziz himself has just written a moving piece in +972 about his experience:
As we approached Shuhada Street I was thinking of a way to stay with the group. I wanted to show them Abu Seneineh neighborhood, where my ancestors came from before moving to Jerusalem 80 years ago. I wanted them to see my aunt’s house and share with them my childhood memories about Hebron. So, I found myself devising a plan that would allow me to pass through without raising the soldiers’ suspicions.
Before arriving to the street, I asked Brant, the congregations’ rabbi, for his “kippah” (skullcap). I put it on my head and walked straight up to the Israeli soldier at the entrance of the street. I told him (in Hebrew) that I have a Jewish group touring from Chicago that wants to walk through. He only had one question: “do you have any Arabs with you?” I answered confidently, “No, they are all Jews,” and that was all we needed to get inside the “Jewish area.”
I was amazed by what a kippah could do. Suddenly, I was not suspicious and was transformed for the soldiers from an enemy to a friend. The kippah became my entry visa, my access papers. I felt like it was my “shibboleth” into an elite club and the kippah was like the card I swipe to get in.