on the disappearance of religion


Today, I went to find the Mostar Puppet Theater, which had once been Mostar’s synagogue.  It had been ‘given’ away by the Yugoslavian government in 1952 to end the influence of religion. (Note, no other religious building was so reassigned here.) As usual, the building was tricky to find.  It is on a narrow street, one block east of Marshall Tito street.  I walked around the narrow streets, the ones where cars careen down and you jump out of the way, hoping for clearance between you and the car.  I walked for a bit, circling around behind residential houses. Then, there It was. Behind a wall and red iron fence, there was the building.  A small glass case with two small posters advertising a puppet show were the only signs that the Puppet Theater existed. 


The red gate was open.  I walked in. The building was set back from the street, with two ramps leading up to the building, a simple white square building. In the front was a fragment of a stone with barely decipherable Hebrew characters. This was the only sign that this building had once been something else. 



The peak of the building is edged in yellow, a cheerful note against the brown mountains.  The steps were worn stone, and the courtyard in front of the building was calm. Perhaps, because the building is set back, and anchored up on a small rise, the space seemed timeless.


 Turning, I looked down the stairs at the red gate, open but yet enclosing the space. The minute I stepped out , the street began. There is no sidewalk in these alley like streets. No transition from contemplating the changes in history in the peace of a small courtyard.  I walked back, dodging past three late model cars, each with a driver busy talking a cell phone. 


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