Which of you would ever think of feeding street cats as a means of witnessing to people? Nobody, not even me. But I have a friend who has been doing this for a long time in the Orthodox neighborhood of Mea Shearim, where the popular series Shtisel was set. Some might say that such people no longer have all the cups in the cupboard, but these people are often more lively conversation partners than others. My wife knows I attract guys like this like a magnet. The largest collection of these eccentrics is in Jerusalem.
Ronny Guy is a special guy. He was born in Jerusalem 66 years ago and was one of the first Jerusalem rock guitarists of the 70s, like Shlomo Mizrachi. Today he is married to a German woman and now lives in Jerusalem again. We became friends many years ago after meeting through the internet. He then lived abroad for many years, in Sweden and other countries. Ronny speaks a little German and comes to our editorial office from time to time. When my father died five years ago, he composed a 15-minute requiem.
“Someone has to take care of the cats on the streets,” Ronny told me. “I met a famous rabbi in Mea Shearim who specifically told me that the biblical commandment to love your neighbor as yourself also applies to the pets around us.” Both the rabbi and Ronny have agreed that if Ronny wears a yarmulke, then the rabbi makes sure that his yeshivah students don’t throw away food, but save the leftovers for Ronny and his cat service on the streets of Mea Shearim. And that works. Ronny is the only one taking care of the cats in this part of Jerusalem. His explanation is quite simple, the Jerusalem Municipality shows a fundamental lack of interest in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods in Israel’s capital and that’s why the cats in Mea Shearim are the worst off. In the wealthier neighborhoods, Israeli cats are doing well.
Ronny told me about the beginning of his “work” in Mea Shearim. It wasn’t easy, a mission impossible. Orthodox Jews initially bullied him for not wearing a head covering. “They suspected me and initially thought I was a policeman in disguise or a Shin Bet agent. But over time and now with a kippah on my head, the people in the back streets of Mea Shearim have opened up to me. We don’t just talk about cats, we get into deep conversations related to God, the Bible, and Israel’s salvation. The Bible is God’s Word and there is simply no better book than this.”
Ronny considers himself the savior of the cats in Mea Shearim. I can’t tell you everything about Ronny, but he is a believing Jew in his own way. In his conversations with Orthodox Torah students, he very often gets to the point and explains to them that God is first in his heart. The do’s and dont’s in the Bible are important, but salvation comes from a different direction. He knows the Bible and can therefore deal with the religious Jews between his cat service. In Ronny, I don’t just see a cat feeder, but someone who dances at two weddings at the same time. He helps the cats and speaks to the people of Mea Shearim.
It doesn’t matter what people say and think about Ronny Guy. For the Jerusalem rock legend, this is his job, his reputation. Between us, who would imitate Ronny? But that’s typical Jerusalem. There are so many different characters in the Holy City, and the most original live among us here. I know some personally.
Israel Today Membership
Save 18% Per Month.
Six Months Membership
Save 9% Per Month.