Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Taste of Wealth

We were fortunate enough to have spent this past weekend in our golden Jerusalem, in the most spectacular winter weather - blue skies, crisp air, and sunshine that warmed our hides enough to remove our heavy winter coats. We were equally fortunate to spend it in one of the most prestigious hotels in Jerusalem. This is a hotel of which most people like me will only ever visit the lobby on a date. The entire place closes to the public when dignified international heads of state visit. It boasts a fabulous Monday night sushi buffet which I think runs around $40-$50 per person (I don`t know about you, but I could never eat that much sushi!)

So anyway, at the expense of a very generous family friend of my husband`s, we stayed in this hotel over the weekend to celebrate his son`s bar mitzvah, and rubbed shoulders with a lot of very wealthy people. The setting was fabulous, the food amazing, and the rooms exciting (the only way to describe my reaction to the beautiful marble bathroom with the huge tub and little l'Occitane soaps, bathrobes, slippers and, best of all, no need to turn on the boiler!) I wore my best jewelry to fit in with the elegant hotel guests, feeling quite happy to have a taste of the fine life.

Over the course of the Sabbath, however, I developed a "so-what" attitude to the goings-on around me. In the dining area, spoiled teenagers were ordering 18-shekel bottles of soda and a variety of foods without hesitation. Well-groomed, finely-dressed women strutted about, looking no happier than anyone with a fraction of what they have. And truthfully, I got the impression that the wealthier you are, the more everyone tries to milk you. You`d think that for the price of an expensive hotel room you would get tea and coffee in the room, or that the dining menu would be subsidized. But no, the more you have in your wallet, the higher your spendings - if you live like a rich person. I met people who apparently were worth millions but lived ordinary lives and worked hard to get through college, get a job, etc. Like the rest of us common folk.

At the close of our fine weekend, we still felt privileged to have bedded only a short walk away from the Old City, and to have partook of a great Sabbath with wonderful company. But both my husband and I decided that, despite it all, it wasn`t worth the price. Granted, people will treat you like the gold you are worth, but at that exact cost. And it hasn`t changed our vision of one day returning to live in Jerusalem among its common people, steeped so much in the wealth of Torah that their faith is the stuff of which money cannot buy.

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