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
When the siren sounds on Mt. Herzl

When the siren sounds on Mt. Herzl

The photographs of Israel’s military ceremonies on Memorial Day are usually evocative closeups that are beautifully composed. A young child lies on his father’s tombstone. A grandmother weeps at her granddaughter’s grave. A brother stands silently between the trees, his head bowed. Rows of identical, symmetrical tombstones are punctuated by glowing memorial candles, dotted with flowers, and garnished with flags of blue and white. The images are solitary; the settings expansive.

But if you go to Mount Herzl for the siren on Yom Hazikaron, the scene is very different. As you approach the military cemetery, you become part of one large mass of humanity, bound by a common history, a common fate, a common purpose – and a common deadline: to be at a graveside by 11:00 a.m.

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Posted by Shira Pasternak Be'eri in Essays

Jerusalem Syndrome


Jerusalem syndrome is a group of mental phenomena involving the presence of either religiously themed obsessive ideas, delusions or other psychosis-like experiences that are triggered by a visit to the city of Jerusalem. It is not endemic to one single religion or denomination but has affected Jews, Christians and Muslims of many different backgrounds.”

(From Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia)

Posted by Yiska Oppenheim in Images