We are in it Together. Part III. Shabbat at Pardes. In Jerusalem.

So it is a Friday, and that means that my morning is spent at the famous Mahane Yehuda shuk – an open street market, big, loud, great in its smells, crowds, and colors. The amount of people there on a Friday is hard to imagine. Everyone is walking, image.jpegchecking, looking, shouting, buying, selling, and just people watching. The prices are, of course, better than in the stores, and the produce is so good that you want to buy it all. We usually bring cheese, spices, halva, lukum… I would bring more, but one has a limit to space and finances. Too bad. So chia seeds, turmeric, which is called curcuma here, za’atar, pepper, coffee and pistachio halva are all packed in my bag, as well as lots of kosher cheese. Time for lunch. We go to a tiny cute place called “Mizrachi cafe” right here in the shuk.  We take a simple salad, coffee, and pastry. The cafe doesn’t feel in sync with its name, but what a wonderful little place it is. The pastries are sooo delicious! I am not even saying anything about the salad, which is bursting with the flavor of the vegetables themselves. You don’t have to do much here, just use the fresh produce from the shuk.

We spend Shabbat with Pardes students, and their spouses, friends, etc. It’s a big circle with food, lots of songs, dvar Torah, and the stories we all tell. Why did we come here? How does it feel to learn in the Holy city of Jerusalem the Torah of Gd? We are all very different people coming from different backgrounds, religious and political spectra, from all corners of the world. There are people young and old from England, Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy, South Africa, USA. We couldn’t be further from each other, and certainly, have different views on everything, but one thing we have in common – love for learning Torah. This is what counts for me.

On Shabbat we go to the בית הכנסת של קורסים – the synagogue of the Kurds in the neighborhood where we are staying, Old Katamon. It is so beautiful! Silver ornaments depicting things that are dear to the Jews are everywhere, they even adorn the walls with the signs of the Tribes of Israel. And the songs! I wish we sang that much in my shul.

We get to walk a lot. And see a lot.

Jerusalem is magical.

This is a place, where the work of Gd and the work of man come together in a tapestry of nature and architecture. It is the place, where the air is crisp any night, even after the hottest day. A place, where traditional  Middle eastern melodies meet the modern ones sang in all the languages of the world.

You will ask me “don’t you look at this city with a childish dreamlike gaze, through rose-colored glasses?” And I will answer – of course! I do know that Jerusalem has problems, many of them. I do see that some things need improvement, and I recognize the tensions in society. However, while I am a mere guest in my city of dreams, I do not have the right to point out its minor flaws. Once Gd-willing, I live here, I will, possibly, raise my voice for this or against that. Not now. Not yet. For now, I am just saying “Thank you, my love, for allowing me to admire you, and thank Gd for allowing me to come here often, but not enough. Thank you for giving me a chance to sing your praise!”

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