Each evening during Ramadan, our team apartment is like nearly every other Palestinian home in Hebron we are beginning to look at our watches, then look to the kitchen, and telling each other, “Only another hour until breakfast”. During the last few minutes of daylight, someone (whoever is hungriest?) stands by the door, listening for the call to prayer which also marks the end of each daily fast. Sunset brings not only the first meal of the day, but a time of family togetherness and warmth. Extra time is spent at the table, and extra preparations go into the meal. Everyone shuts down their shops, the taxis disappear from the street. For maybe two hours every night, Palestinian streets are completely silent as men, women, and children go home to enjoy the meal. Everyone looks forward to breakfast.

[During the month of Ramadan, November 16-December 15, members of CPT Hebron will be fasting from sun up to sun down along with their Muslim neighbors.  Find hereby of the  reflections]

Breakfast

Each evening during Ramadan, our team apartment is like nearly every other Palestinian home in Hebron we are beginning to look at our watches, then look to the kitchen, and telling each other, “Only another hour until breakfast”. During the last few minutes of daylight, someone (whoever is hungriest?) stands by the door, listening for the call to prayer which also marks the end of each daily fast. Sunset brings not only the first meal of the day, but a time of family togetherness and warmth. Extra time is spent at the table, and extra preparations go into the meal. Everyone shuts down their shops, the taxis disappear from the street. For maybe two hours every night, Palestinian streets are completely silent as men, women, and children go home to enjoy the meal. Everyone looks forward to breakfast.

Yet what happens when you aren’t home by sunset?

One day last week, my teammates and I caught the last public transport from Jerusalem to Hebron before sunset. By normal traveling conditions, there was plenty of time to make it home for the breaking of the fast. However, as we were stopped in the heavy Jerusalem traffic, sunset came. The driver turned the radio on to a religious station, which broadcast the call to prayer. All talk in the taxi stopped as the call was sung. Then, the radio played cheerful holiday music and people’s faces lit up, leaving the stresses of the day and looking forward to home and food and family. Although our taxi was full, we stopped to pick up and squeeze in a few extra people standing by the road. In return, they opened their package of Arab sweets and gave one to each person in the van to break the fast. Others passed around cigarettes, to break their day-long fast from smoking as well.

But then, just a few miles from home, a soldier at a checkpoint ordered our van to stop. “Turn around”, he said to the driver, “your passengers can walk”.  We asked the soldier why it was necessary to stop the van here. He didn’t give us an answer. As usual, the decision seemed arbitrary. Slowly, each passenger got out of the van and began the long walk up the hill, realizing that breakfast was now at least an extra hour or two away. Fortunately, after only a quarter-mile walk, another taxi, which hadn’t been turned back,  stopped to give us a lift. We were packed in without an inch to spare, but everyone was smiling and in good spirits again.  Ilhamdililah. Thanks be to God.  We were headed home for breakfast.

When the van reached the Halhoul roadblocks, everyone got out and started negotiating their way carefully over the concrete rubble. Just then, a tank pulled up and a soldier threw a percussion grenade at the van door. It exploded in a loud bang, sending sharp fragments of hot plastic in all directions.  Fortunately, no one was cut or burned. Why would a soldier do that? What military objective could he have achieved? The tank went on its way. After our shock wore off, we turned and walked on as well.  We piled into our third taxi and headed into the center of town. Moods were subdued as we traveled through bleak and empty streets. We were headed home for breakfast.

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