Those of us on the arts track recently had an overnighter in Ein Hod, an artistic community. We stayed in the homes of artists for the night we were there, and during the day, learned about the village and participated in arts workshops.
My host family had a son named Omer who was only about two years older than me. His parents weren’t home for most of the time I was there, and when they were, they happily let Omer look after me and the other girl who also stayed at their home. He was my real host, checking in with me to see if I had everything I needed, constantly offering me cups of coffee and tea, and talking to me despite the fact that his English was poor.
Because my Hebrew was weaker, we connected through music more so than words. And when words were spoken, I felt like I was understood more than I’ve ever been before in my life, possibly because my words were unimportant. Music truly is the universal language, and after my time in Ein Hod, I feel confident that it can bridge any gap. Here are some of my thoughts.
“Come. We go to sit on the roof,” Omer said. I picked up my glass of soda and followed him outside. He pulled open a rickety wooden gate, and we began to climb a flight of stone stairs. The rock was cool against the soles of our bare feet. On the roof, the wind blew stronger, uninhibited.
I walked slowly across the wide expanse towards the couch that had been set up near the railing, letting the wind gust against me, filling me. The stars were brighter than I’d ever seen them before, and luminous purple wisps of cloud flitted across the sky. I joined Omer on the couch. We set our glasses down on the glass table and gazed in silence at the vastness that lay on the other side of the railing.
“In the day,” Omer murmured, his thick Israeli accent adding extra layers to each word, “you see the sea in here. I go to here to think.”
I nodded, searching the depths for signs of water, but all I saw in the darkness were the small lights of nearby houses. Maybe other people were looking through those windows, searching for something in the darkness.
Omer pulled out a small instrument, a marimbula covered in chipped red paint. He pressed the metal strips, and the toy resonated with tinny sounds.
“I bring with me to the beach,” he explained. “So I have the music always.”
“Can I try?”
He passed me the instrument, and I played around with it, creating a disjointed, lonely melody. I let the thin sounds fade into the surrounding air. We sat in companionable silence for a few minutes.