By Rebecca Bernstein
We all know its coming. But just in case you haven't been handed the pamphlets, read the billboard over the
For instance, this morning, I walked out of my apartment and waited for the light to change to cross the street. Before I could cross, an elderly woman approached me.
I tried my best to ignore her. As the light changed, I quickly walked by and she handed me a pamphlet. Judgment Day? I thought. No such thing. I boarded the subway and sat down. As I waited, I skimmed over the pamphlet. It listed lines from the New Testament as evidence for Judgment Day. I concluded that being born Jewish, and being un-observant, none of this applied to me.
Just as I had dismissed the pamphlet, a young man boarded the subway. He was dressed very formally, in a suit, maybe on his way to work. Before I could make up my mind about what profession he was in, he spoke.
"Good morning, my fellow brothers and sisters! I'll take just a moment of your time to talk about upcoming Judgment Day."
Good Lord! I thought. It was not even , and already I had my share of religious homilies. Just then, the subway doors opened to my stop, and I narrowly escaped the subway sermon.
As I walked swiftly to my class, I smiled to myself, trying to recall what happened so I could relay it to my boyfriend later. I knew I would exaggerate the story, making the subway preacher a crazy televangelist. I almost laughed out loud when I did the voice in my head of Joel Olsteen. Then someone tapped me on the shoulder.
A tall, modestly dressed elderly man,inquired, "Did you forget this?"
I looked down to see a New Testament mini-Bible in his hand. I looked at the Bible, then looked at him, and walked away. I could not believe this. Did my chamsa necklace, Star of David earrings, and big Jewish nose set off an alarm? Why was I the target for subway and sidewalk sermons? Being a Religion minor in college, daughter of the Vice-President of a synagogue, and an eight-year veteran of Hebrew school, I was well versed in religion. But this grassroots movement of everyday people was new to me. It was as if my zealously religious aunt had called
I always thought that I would have problems in the city with violence or public transportation. This was something I did not expect. Experiencing the commitment that some people had to their beliefs, that they felt so strongly as to stand on a corner or preach in a subway car, was oddly inspiring, yet disconcerting.
I don't want to be disrespectful or offend anyone, but as an outsider of the city, and of the religion, it is an out-of-the-ordinary experience. I cannot honestly say that when these people speak, I ignore them. For a moment, I catch myself wondering and "what-ifing". But then, I snap out of it, as the logical side of me takes control. There is a constant battle inside me between admiration and annoyance for these believers.
I know what I am going to do when I wake up on May 21 and we're all still here. I wonder what they are going to do?