At 6:15 this morning, Dylan, my son the superstar performer, called to tell me something about Penelope (my car, which he has named). Something about taking "her" somewhere. Honestly, I was just thrilled to hear his voice, and would have been no matter what he had to say.
By 7:15, I was at Moreshet and in Rabbi Shlomo's morning Minyan. After meeting a few people there, all of which speak better English than I do, and all of whom have lived here for many years, I headed next door to the Conservative Yeshiva and a Talmud class with the well known and very dynamic Rabbi Pesach Schindler.
Rabbi Schindler is a smallish man with a somewhat heavy New York (Long Island, as opposed to Brooklyn) accent and incredibly blue eyes, who not only teaches, but asks his students to teach him. Afterwards, he invited all who had studied with him, roughly twenty of us, to join in a Kiddush in honour of a couple who was celebrating their 64th wedding anniversary. Their names are Harry and Annie Allen, formerly of Lincoln, Nebraska. I wish them happiness until 120!
Ben Yehudah Street has changed tremendously.
It is now a walking mall, with shops and eateries on both sides of the steep up and down block, and English (READ: American) speakers EVERYWHERE. I'm not sure that I may have heard five or seven words of Hebrew. I did, however, hear a lot of Russian, French and Brooklyn.
Burger King is Kosher; So is McDonalds. But, THE place to be and be seen is Aroma. Akin to Coffee Bean or Starbucks, Aroma has wireless internet and it is from here that I am now blogging at 1:40 in the afternoon.
Aroma is a relatively large place for Jerusalem; meaning that one could fit 22 of them inside one Coffee Plantation in Phoenix. There are three or four round three top tables with umbrellas outside and 9 small rounders inside, all with bright orange chairs. At one table sits a Chassid and a younger (obviously non-religious) man; while at another a businessman and in the far (10 feet from me) corner, a seemingly attractive woman of maybe 35, eyes hidden behind sunglasses eats a large salad and keeps to herself as a group of ten or so soldiers walk by on the sidewalk outside laughing as they go.
Eviyatar and Anir just came in to Aroma. I saw Anir first, so, I must first tell you about her. She has huge round beautiful eyes and brown hair. She is wearing a pink jumper and she owns a magnificent smile. She is a couple weeks older than Eviyatar, and it is rumored that there is a match already made by their respective families. Eviyatar is all man. A solid twelve or so pounds of muscle and a wisp of blonde hair that can barely be seen under his hoodie. If you haven't yet caught on, Eviyatar and Anir are three months old. And, they are our future. May G-d bless them and keep them safe, healthy and in his close thoughts. They are Jerusalem. They are our hopes and our prayers.
Binyamin HaMalach Moalem told me in a heavy Tunisian accent that he is 60 years old. And then he laughed. My money would place him at least twenty years older, but what is age anyway?
As I was walking toward the Kotel (The Western Wall), I was greeted by Binyamin who asked me if I would like some company while walking to the Wall. We walked, and he talked and told me that this exercise is how he stays fit at his age. We walked through the Market, which has not changed and as we walked, and as we talked, it occurred to me that I had not stepped foot inside this place in nearly 25 years. And, in twenty five years, each and every shop seems to be exactly as I remembered.
The only difference that was noticeable to me about the area around the Wall is the presence of metal detectors.
You ask about my experience at the Wall today? All I can say, truly, is that I was and remain so overwhelmed by emotion, that my thoughts will have to wait until I visit there again. Tomorrow.
Many poets have written about this City of Gold. Many singers have sang her praises. Tonight I am feeling just so blessed to be here at all, that sometimes, less is more.
לילה טוב מירושלום
Good night from Jerusalem.