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  • Writer's pictureJewish Examiner

What is it About Jerusalem?

I had my first conscious contact with something bigger than myself in Jerusalem. It was a Friday night, so everything in Jerusalem was closed back then. We all took a walk to the Kotel. The empty streets of the shuk were creepy at eleven pm. The echo of our footsteps added to the horror movie vibe. In reality we were safer than just about anywhere else in the world. We sat on the wall just outside the women’s section. Just a bunch of teenagers, boys and girls, sitting and talking. We were the only ones there. I remember, in the midst of what must have been a deep conversation about the meaning of life, I looked up at the sky. There was a fleeting moment of connection to the universe, that vast entity that was bigger than just me. I was connected to all of it. Jerusalem, in that moment, became part of me.

When you get connected to a place it’s hard to lose that connection. Sometimes you fight it. The religious fanaticism that goes together with Jerusalem makes me howl. Pick the monotheistic religion of your choice. None are immune. Despite this fanaticism I still love Jerusalem. Maybe it’s like my friend, Yossie Bloch said when talking about Jerusalem Day celebrations. He said “I celebrate it, because I have no intention of ceding it to the extremists.” I love Jerusalem, so I too don’t want to cede it to extremists.

A famous Jerusalem icon that once was on King George Street

I wish Jerusalem had stayed small and intimate like I knew it in the seventies, but it was always bigger than can be measured by a post on Medium. Today we celebrate the reunification of Jerusalem. Last night Israel won the Eurovision song contest. Well not Israel, we can be a little pitchy, but Netta Barzilei did, and that means next year’s contest is in Jerusalem. Tomorrow the US embassy opens in Jerusalem. It should have happened 70 years ago, but politicians are rarely known for doing the right thing. Now I find myself in such a strange place. I love that the embassy is moving to its rightful place, but I feel bad for the employees who no longer work near the beach! That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Lets just say that God works in mysterious ways. Or he has a dark sense of humor. So humor me, and let me not give credit.

In 1967 we liberated the Jordanian occupied part of Jerusalem we lost in the war to gain our independence. In putting Jerusalem back together we failed to fix the cracks. We can argue over whose fault it is and why the cracks exist. That doesn’t change the fact that we own it, so we have the responsibility to fix it.

There is something about Jerusalem. Something that words don’t easily convey. Right now only three words come to mind when I think about Jerusalem. Maybe one day.

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