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Scissors and Soul Talk

Refoel Pride

Zionthe Barber is a fixture of the narrow streets surrounding Jerusalem’s Mir Yeshivah — not just because of his haircutting skills, or the trust he’s earned from its roshei yeshivah, but because of the way he turns each haircut into a personal encounter.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

margin-right: 10px; float: left;A warm winter Thursday night in Yerushalayim’s Beis Yisrael neighborhood. The usual frenetic pace on the warren of narrow streets is cranked up a notch as Shabbos preparations get underway in homes and the Leil Shishi mishmar begins in Yeshivas Mir.

Even amid the bustling activity, Zion’s barber shop is pretty hard to miss, with its distinctive circle-Z logo facing the main Mir beis medrash. Step in through the front door, and there’s no question that you’re in the right place.

“You came at the perfect time,”Zioncalls out. “Have a seat. The best time for me to talk is when I’m cutting hair.”

It’sZion’s busiest time of the week. One customer sits for his haircut, another waits quietly on deck. Two more customers converse in Hebrew. The foot traffic, the banter, and the gurgling of the fish tank combine to create an atmosphere that is at once intimate and intense — quintessentially Israeli yet instantly familiar to any New Yorker.

The door rattles and a tall, bearded American yungerman steps partway in. “Zion, can we say 2:30 tomorrow?”

“Sure thing,”Zionresponds easily in English.

Another young American yungerman flaunts his Arabic skills with Zion and a Teimani bochur.

“I speak five languages,”Zionsays. “Hebrew, English, Arabic, Russian, and Bukharian.”

The customer base this night spans the entire spectrum of Jewish life — Sephardic, Teimani, litvish, chassidish, Mizrachi. They clearly value the standard denoted by that circle-Z logo emblazoned on the front door.

“My customers tell me I’ve helped them make shidduchim,” Zion says proudly. “A friend of mine, Moshe Ber, told me straight out: ‘Zion, my shidduch was because of you. My fiancée told me that on our first date she was really admiring my haircut. She said I looked very neat, and that made a good impression. I have to thank you.’ ”

 

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