Essays

Those dreams, this city

Those dreams, this city

It came to me in my dreams as a child. Maybe it was the stories of King David and Solomon’s Temple when I was in Hebrew school. Maybe it was the images in picture books from the library with the Temple shining in the sun and sheep grazing on the hills of the city. Maybe it was just there, some genetic link dating back centuries that brought Jerusalem into my dreams. And now this city is my home, in every sense of the word. When you love something from afar, without knowing the reality of snuggling in its arms, there is much to learn when first surrounded by your object of desire. And this city teaches, as no other city in the world does. History and modernity tied together, and we learn from both that they are not mutually exclusive. Jerusalem is a city of ancient dreams and legends, always with new dreams and legends joining the ancient.

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Posted by Irene Rabinowitz in Essays

At the shuk with the living and the dead

“I just sold it to that couple for 30 shekel,” Yoram, the merchant said pointing to the backs of two people, “why should I give it to you for less?” There was an almost angry lilt to his Hebrew.

“Because I have a great smile,” I quipped without missing a beat. And with that, he tipped his head and handed me the bundle of socks in a blue plastic bag. I paid him 20 shekel and he shooed me away lest anyone be witness to the coup I just pulled.

The shuk at Machaneh Yehuda, the bastion of haggling in the heart of Israel, is so fabulously complementary to the delicate mélange of old-world aura and cosmopolitan glitter that Jerusalem has become. It is a city of unique sophistication built on ancient spirits blended with the sacrifice of souls, old and new, made on her behalf. Hidden in a pocket of the city between the streets of Agrippas and Yaffo, the shuk, a world unto itself; it couldn’t be more ideal had it been expressly planned as a special treat for tourists to go back in time.

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Posted by Zahava Englard in Essays
Jerusalem, city of contradictions

Jerusalem, city of contradictions

May, 2014, 7:00 AM, Amman airport.
I am returning to Jerusalem from a celebratory conference that began with so much promise. Two Israeli doctors developed a solar battery hearing aid and contributed it to the Jordanians who suffer high incidence of infant deafness, the result of common tribal in-marriage. If treated before age 3, there is hope for normal speech and a normal life. Heretofore, the families of deaf children routinely tossed hearing aids when the battery ran out, sadly long before three years. There are homes for the deaf all over Jordan.

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Posted by Blu Greenberg in Essays

Families in Jerusalem

It’s family. That’s what it’s all about.

Today, I read the sad news that someone’s child at Tzomet HaGush decided to try to run over someone else’s child and got shot and finally died for his efforts. (Please God, the victim of the attack will recover.) Then I read about someone’s daughters who tried to sneak bomb materiel into Israel from Gaza in medicine containers. One of the sisters was coming to Israel for cancer treatment. (Let the full magnitude of that sink in.)

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Posted by Ruti Eastman in Essays
Lost in translation

Lost in translation

“You’re so lucky I am here to guide you, to protect you in this part of the city,” her friend had told her ten seasons past, while they walked through a wind-rubbed Muslim Quarter deep into December.

He said this when she pointed to words in Arabic written in blood-red paint, the letters drip-dried over old stone. “In this part of town, you never know,” he continued, “if Hamas or Islamic Jihad or even a salafi, perhaps, is close by and writing on walls.”

“What does it say?” she asked, as she glanced over each shoulder, right and left, afraid.

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Posted by Sarah Tuttle-Singer in Essays
My nation lives, my son is born

My nation lives, my son is born

My new baby boy Amichai Elisha was born on ה׳ אייר, on the 69th anniversary of the foundation of the Jewish State in Israel. There was a lot of speculation that we would choose a name for him that would be apropos to the day with a name such as Amichai, but the truth is we had our Ruach Hakodesh, Divine Inspiration over 5 years ago when pregnant with Ayelet, in case she was a boy. But even though we had it picked out already, the birthday definitely helps enrich and emphasise the context of his name. Amichai is a concatenation of two words, Ami – my nation – and Chai – life, literally “my nation lives.” Our Amichai was born on the anniversary of the founding of the state, which is preceded by Yom Hazikaron, memorial day for our nation’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror. This year the two days were celebrated one day late to preserve the sanctity of Shabbat, such that this year Amichai was born on Yom Hazikaron.

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Posted by Max Rabin in Essays
Among the Mourners of Zion and Jersualem

Among the Mourners of Zion and Jersualem

 Late last night, I found myself embraced by the walls of the Old City. My brother and I made a last-minute trek there from the Gush to pay a shiva call to a long time Old-City family who just lost its patriarch, a rabbi whom I hadn’t seen since I was 15 but was my brother’s third grade teacher in Los Angeles and whose son was my classmate in second grade.

We parked near the Zion Gate, said a small blessing for the miracle of finding good parking parking, and then meandered down narrow stone paths and under arches to find the house of mourning.

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Posted by Jessica Levine Kupferberg in Essays
Of cats and ghosts

Of cats and ghosts

It started with a cat.

One moment, it was a nice cat: It jumped onto my lap, curled up, and purred.

A moment later, it was no longer a nice cat: It sunk its claws into my hand, bit me, and jumped off.

Four phone calls and one rabies scare later, I learned that if you ever get scratched by a stray cat in Jerusalem, you’re supposed to visit Jerusalem’s Regional Health Bureau on Jaffa street. Given the local cat population in Jerusalem, getting scratched isn’t all that unlikely. In fact, you might end up there too.

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Posted by Rachel Sharansky Danziger in Essays

Run like a…

I ran.

(Okay, only for a minute.  And only at the very end of the 10k.  The rest I walked. But really, I power walked – I am powerful here.)

Down the streets of Jerusalem, the city I first met when I was 15 and never wanted to leave but then neglected for 19 years until I started to get to know her again.

Past the Knesset where I’ll finally get my say, so much sooner than I thought I would when we moved here in the summer during a war.

Past smart museums, smoking shopkeepers, bongo players, bearded-and-black hatted men, women with newborns.

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Posted by Jessica Levine Kupferberg in Essays
Grandpa’s Jerusalem

Grandpa’s Jerusalem

I have vivid memories from when I was a small child of my grandparents returning from their annual trip to Israel. It was always very exciting for me to hear them talk about the holy land they loved so much. I thought of it as a magical wonderland with camels and silver and lots and lots of siddurs (prayer books) and Tehillim (psalms) books because those were gifts they’d bring back for us. I felt proud when I learned that my grandfather was born in our ancient homeland. I thought him a hero for coming to the States when he was a teenager to make money to help support his family back home.

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Posted by Aliza Lipkin in Essays