Giving birth in Jerusalem

Giving birth in Jerusalem

“We already sealed the womb itself,” explained Professor Elchalal. “Now we’re stitching the tissues around it.”

The professor’s voice rose, oddly disembodied, from behind the curtain that separated my head from the rest of my body. A C-section, I thought, is all about separations – we separate tissue from tissue, baby from womb. Under these circumstances, a curtain cutting the body in two is only fitting.

“And how do you stitch the tissues together, professor?”

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Posted by Rachel Sharansky Danziger in Essays

Noticing the Everyday Miracles in Jerusalem

Neighborhood playground (Ir Ganim- Kiryat Menachem facebook page)

Not a dry eye in the hall. Bet you’ve heard that phrase before, but how often do you really see a room full of guests sniveling collectively to keep composure at a seemingly routine family event?
Eleven years of waiting, hoping, praying for a child came to an apex at a recent brit milah in an obscure Jerusalem neighborhood synagogue.

Ir Ganim- Kiryat Menachem is best known for the culture clash between the old-timers and the new-comers. The older residents are comprised of Jewish families from Arab countries which had been forced out after centuries of living in thriving communities. In Israel’s infancy they were settled in quickly-constructed shikun buildings in the 50’s and 60’s and have since been joined by Russian immigrants who came in the big waves of aliya from the former Soviet Union. They have carefully guarded their secular lifestyles. The new faces on the blocks are the young, sincerely observant families lacking the means to choose more established religious neighborhoods.

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Posted by Heddy Abramovitz 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

Where we help each other do good

On my way to Ulpan (Hebrew class) one morning, just after making aliyah, a young man with multiple piercings wearing all black kept asking me for something I couldn’t understand. An elderly lady wearing a hat and wig came off her seat to hand me a tissue. She wanted me to have the mitzvah of giving it to the young man who was asking for one. Charedi meets Chiloni over a mitzvah!

Posted by Shlomo Fisherowitz in Snippets
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

The musical cabbie

“What were you before you were a cab driver?”

He had a Russia accent and anyway, I keep meeting older cab drivers in Jerusalem who were something else before.

“Well, since coming to Israel, I’ve only been a cab driver. But in Russia I was a musician. I play the piano. But I knew before immigrating that I wouldn’t find work in that. It was really sad for me but I knew I needed to come here for my family, my kids…”

“You know, you’re the generation paying for the move but your kids and grandkids get to reap the benefits.” I say this from experience. My parents moved here from Canada when we were kids and my sisters’ kids are Sabras and have none of the issues we have.

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Posted by Deena Levenstein in Snippets
Generations of valor

Generations of valor

There is one day a year when the red flag is still carried proudly through Jerusalem: May 9th, Victory Day. The flag is carried by WWII veterans, whose achievements and sacrifices brought Nazi Germany to its knees.

Posted by Rachel Sharansky Danziger in Images
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

From China to the Western Wall

The emotional moment as a young Kaifeng Jew from China approaches the Western Wall in Jerusalem, right after being brought on aliyah (immigration) to Israel by Shavei Israel. The Kaifeng Jewish population was established by Jewish merchants from the Middle East and Persia as early as the 7th century and once numbered as many as 5,000.

Posted by Laura Ben-David in Images

Where languages abound

Today in Jerusalem I was checking out at the SuperSol on Agron. I was able to understand and respond in Hebrew.

I realized that the two women behind me in line were speaking in French and could not respond to the checkout lady in Hebrew. At that moment, the young woman on the register said that her mother had made aliyah from Belgium and spoke Flemish and French and that she could also speak a little French. Within three minute, this little interchange went from Hebrew to English to French with a smattering of Flemish thrown in.

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Posted by Irene Rabinowitz in Snippets