Every religion has its sacred places; recently I've visited a place I believe should be sacred to every man. Nalaga'at Center (Please Touch) is located in Jaffa port.
Nalaga'at Center was established in 2007, it's being run by Nalaga'at society, and funded by known philanthropies. Its purpose is to give stage to blind and deaf people and raise public awareness to this issue. In this center you'll find a huge theatre, and every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday live shows are performed. Café Kapish on the site employs hearing impaired waiters and Black Out restaurant – vision impaired. Today this center employs more than 70 people, while presenting the rest of us with an unforgettable experience.
My experience in Nalaga'at Center starts with a theatre show – Not by Bread Alone. It's a full house and the blind and deaf actors demonstrate their life stories on stage. They move around, talk, sing and open their hearts to the audience. We are excited, and by the end of the show, when we're invited on stage to meet the actors, it's hard to prevent ourselves from crying.
Outside the theatre, the show goes on. When we approach Black Out restaurant, we are asked to keep our belongings in a locker as well as any jewelry that might shine in the dark. We order our food from the menu before coming in. the door is opened and we enter one by one. We're a little bit scared, but proudly march inside. A vision impaired waiter invites us to use his shoulder to find our way inside the totally blackened restaurant. I can't even see my hand in front of my face. The waiter helps us to our seats and explains where we can find our plates and glasses on the table; he even teaches us how to pour water into our glasses without seeing it.
Around us we can hear the restaurant's commotion – fork meats a plate, water is poured into a glass, waiters serve the tables and people enjoy their meal. A waiter lets us know that he's placed bread and spread on the table between me and my partner. While we eat it, 2 sisters join our table. Slowly we open up to each other; none of us knows what the other looks like. While waiting for the main courses, we get 2 glasses of wine. I can recognize the Cabernet Sauvignon, but the Merlot escapes my taste buds.
The food is coming, and following the waiter's advice, we decide to skip the knife and fork and easily use our hands. As it turns out, we are surrounded by too many social conventions. I get a well done salmon fillet on a bed of Ratatouille, and my partner has white fish with baked root vegetables.
Our lovely conversation with the 2 sisters continues as the desserts are coming. I eat something that feels like Kadaif in sweet sauce, and my partner enjoys a beautiful cheese cake. Only when we're done do we realize that most of the restaurant's guests have already left. When we thank our waiter, he tells us about the theatre group's performances in London.
I enjoyed my experience in Nalaga'at Center; I'll be back soon to check out Café Kapish, and I hope you'll do the same.