Jerusalem is the beating heart of my people. My heart always starts fluttering in my chest when I begin ascending the Judean hills. I first saw Jerusalem in May, 1976. It was late evening, ….darkness descending from the Mediterranean Sea engulfed the city so hated by the procurator…
And in this darkness, the walls of the Old City burst out at me as the only illuminated spot in the blackness of a Jerusalem night, and they seemed to be levitating in the air.
Jerusalem is all lights today. The old Ottoman-area buildings mingle comfortably with the new and modern, while together, creating an ensemble carved of Jerusalem stone. This is a crazy, fanatical, and magical city – all light yellow and golden beige.
The center now boasts a large pedestrian area where streets and alleys are lined with cafes and shops. The golden stone of the buildings is framed by green gardens, honey suckle bushes, lilac trees, and bougainvillea in a variety of colors I never saw anywhere else.
We set out to sample, purportedly, one of the best falafels in Jerusalem; and walked from our hotel perched on one of the Jerusalem hills presiding over amazing Biblical scenery, to Mahane Yehuda, Jerusalem’s main fruit and vegetable market. The falafel was great, and even though I am not sure we needed to walk that far for a falafel, it hit the spot.
Right next to our hotel, stands a new mall, Mamilla, grand, upscale, and very classy. It was designed by Moshe Safdie. Moshe Safdie was not the only celebrity architect working in Jerusalem over the past several years. Another great new addition is Calatrava’s Chord’s Bridge.
The mall promenade brought us out to Jaffa Gate where we found ouselves in the midst of some kind of a festival.
But we walked right through the crowd and through the gate, towards the Western Wall where we were going to meet up with the rest of the group and tour the newly excavated Herodian tunnels.
I always feel uneasy by the Wall. The air is thick with emotion and fanaticism. There is a high saturation of souls around, or spirits, or vibes from the buried Computer – whatever! And I feel suffocated.
This late at night though, the Wall was not super crowded, and I went up to it. I put my hand on its ancient stone, closed my eyes and felt tears rolling down my cheeks. This is where the beginning of our end started; our suffering and exile. This is where we became Wandering Jews. I asked IT, whatever it is that makes this place the most highly contended spot on this planet, to stop our suffering and give us peace.
I am a non-believer, you know, but there is something here that moves my soul.