A long walk through Jerusalem

I’m living in the area of Bak’a in Jerusalem with a rabbi in training. He’s liberal, so no he doesn’t have the ZZ Top beard (dammit!) But he does like to talk philosophy (great!) and likes to hum Hebrew songs all the time (not so great). We met at a hostel in Tel Aviv, and thought 1. He’d be interesting to talk to (this was true), 2. It seemed a good way to save a few shekels (not so true, I felt obliged to splurge on our Friday night Shabbat meal and 3. I would get a different look at Jerusalem than I would if I just stayed at a hostel (true). This makes me wonder how much I would miss out on in other towns/cities when I’m not staying at a local’s home.

Bak’a is a beautiful suburb with an astounding amount of flowers and small places to sit for a drink or grab a shakshouka. Two nights ago we alfresco’d it up at a small bar/cafe at the end of our street. It was one of those really balmy summer nights with lots of people walking around just hanging out. An Israeli flamenco band began playing for everyone sitting outside. Some nice foreshadowing for the months ahead (FYI: next top is Spain – entiendes?)

Yesterday late afternoon we went and saw the new Woody Allen film. “To Rome with Love.” (I had forgotten all about the 5 minute mid-movie intermissions! How nostalgic). The cinema was small and cute and friendly with a security guard sitting outside and after the movie, with the movie’s score in my head, it was difficult not to feel like I was in a Woody Allen film, and I couldn’t help comparing Jerusalem to Allen’s constructed Rome).

One of my favourite parts of the Old City: the houses with the cute little stone steps down to the door and the bright flowers waving around out front and the shutters framing the windows. It’s difficult not to compare this scene to somewhere like Italy or France (not that I’ve been to either, yet) but I’ll do my best not to make that comparison.

One of my favourite parts of this suburb is the old railway line which is no longer in use. They’ve turned it into a nice boardwalk and it’s a great walk to do while you let your mind wander. Apparently on Shabbat it’s the place to be, I can imagine all the prams and beards and hats and wigs walking along. I also like hearing the ubiquitous American and French accents throughout this suburb.

Today I sat and ate lunch in the Old City eating my Holy Bagel with smoked salmon and avocado (no cream cheese, avoiding the dairy for a short time). A young Jew from Hong Kong came and sat and ate lunch with me and we spoke about the Palestinian/Jewish relationship, or lack of. Apparently they have a small Jewish community in Hong Kong. He kept slipping into conversation – often in a round-about way – that he was ok with Arabs, as if I wouldn’t be for some reason. Strange, but I don’t think I’ve quite grasped this subject yet. All I know is peace is good, I think. And the two populations seem so similar to me so surely they have much to learn from each other.

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