By Larry Gordon –

When it finally became a little cool and rainy at night in Israel—this is before last week’s snowstorm—the choices were either stay at home or go out to join the maddening crowds at one of the always very busy indoor malls in Jerusalem. There is an excitement or perhaps it is a rhythm to the art or pastime of shopping in Israel. First the malls are filled with energetic young people who seem to love to shop almost endlessly.

And the mix of people rushing their way through the malls many shops and stores is truly something to behold. There is a theory that peace between Arabs and Jews can be achieved on an economic plain more expeditiously than in any other of the ways that have been tried and have apparently not succeeded. Somehow even though people find it impossible to respect or even hear one another, when it comes to the international language, that is money, everyone’s ears perk up and they are capable of paying attention.

Not to wander too far off topic but the United States has promised the Palestinians a $4 billion aid package if they successfully navigate their way through the peace negotiation process with Israel. The Palestinian leadership has blown through many billions of dollars over the last few decades in exchange for not much so the international community is encountering some difficulty in getting them to cooperate this time around. But they are trying.

I raise this issue because of the way Arab women and sometime couples saunter around the Malcha Mall in Jerusalem on most nights. Granted that the overwhelming number of people are Israeli’s and a good number of visitors like us, but despite the shopping frenzy and the toting of multiple shopping bags with purchase tightly packed inside, there is a peacefulness and a nonchalance as another international and quite understandable language is being spoken—-that is shopping.

I will go out on a limb here and without serotyping my species I will say that we have a simple way of categorizing stores in places like this or for that matter any other place in the world. The good stores are the ones where there is a place to sit down. The not so good ones are the shops where for some reason they do not provide a place to sit and relax while your wife or children who are with you are working their way through the racks.

I read some shocking news a few days ago. That is that Loehmann’s has filed for bankruptcy and might be closing many if not all their stores. That’s too bad but as one blogger wrote upon learning of the sad news, if we survived the closing of Daffy’s we will most likely survive this closing too.

The good news is that in Israel—as far as I know—there was never a Daffy’s nor is their currently a Loehmann’s. I do remember the original and perhaps at that time the only Loehmann’s store on Duryea Place off Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. This was the old Loehmann;’s long before they dabbled in some men’s clothing on their racks which I believe was created solely to visually stimulate or distract some of the male shoppers just to give them something to do to pass the time while the women zealously do their thing.

I do recall something else about the Duryea Place Loehmann’s and that is these benches they had in front of the store so that people, almost exclusively men could sit on while their wives or significant others did their shopping. I recall a sad collection of men sitting there either staring off into a distant nothingness or with their shoulders sloped and heads hanging somewhere between a semi-conscious wakefulness and sleep. More in this week’s 5TJT


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