Yerushalayim Shel Zahav

14 Apr

After 2,000 years and 5 weeks of longing for Jerusalem, I have arrived! Thanks to an amazing playlist from Michelle featuring only songs about Jerusalem, my friend Sonya and I danced our way up the trail to Tzur Hadassah right outside Jerusalem where we then took a bus to the city. We’ve walked 506 kilometers (314 miles) from Eilat to Jlem!

The arrival was a bit overwhelming as Jerusalem is an intense and busy place particularly right before Shabbat, but once I got out of the center of the city and my taxi pulled up to my favorite address in Jerusalem where my friends Nancy and Ron live I felt completely in awe that just five weeks ago this is where my journey began.

I was reunited with my belongings that I had brought here for before and after the trail. It was strange and yet wonderful to put on jeans, use face wash, put on perfume, etc. I sat across from Nancy at her kitchen table in disbelief at how far I had come also while I wolfed down the most amazing tasting bread, cheese, and grapes.

This was like no other time I had ever arrived to Jerusalem. First, it was by foot and second it was the day after Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day).

As a group we observed Yom HaShoah when the sunset on Wednesday evening. We had a minute of silence and then a talking circle where everyone shared what was alive for them at this moment of remembrance. Several of the Israelis in the group spoke about their families survival stories. Others shared about the power of remembering, experiences at Yad Vashem, and the impact the loss of 6 million of our ancestors has on their lives. Towards the end a heated discussion erupted about whether one could compare the holocaust with other genocides. Though it was challenging in that moment to hear the tense discussion it was certainly a reminder how important it is to engage in these types of discussions.

The following morning I was standing on the trail by myself with yellow flowers waving in the wind as the siren went off throughout the country to remember the Shoah. I stood there thinking about Jews who passed away in fields and had to run through fields fearing for their life and had to live in fields and forests for years during the war in order to survive. In some ways the flowers and the grass waving in the wind felt like their memories were being lifted and honored as the siren blared. I also felt sad that so many never got to see such beauty here in our home land, a safe haven for the Jewish people.

So, arrival to this holy city of Jerusalem took on extra meaning as I was so aware of how many before me dreamed of and longed to be in this place.

This past week as we walked up to Jerusalem I was giddy as we passed through places where the prophet Micah preached, where Goliath lived, where Israelites took refuge after the destruction of the second temple, we saw ancient wells, an old Ottoman bridge, vineyards, wheat fields, and the most breathtaking storks flying in the sky.

What an unforgettable week…I sat under a fig tree and near vineyards this past week ( as the prophet Micah envisioned) and I rejoiced in Jerusalem (just as the prophet Isaiah preached) with the words…sisu et Yerushalayim… I am truly humbled by it all.

Shavua tov from Jerusalem of Gold! And tomorrow begins the journey to Tel Aviv…

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