At this moment, I am sitting in a flat in Jerusalem. No, I’m not on a tour or with a group. I’m visiting friends which means this is slated to be 10 days of goofing off in Israel. Four of which will be spent here in Jerusalem where I also have a mirpeset...albeit with a slightly different view from the one at home.
|Light show Mameluke period|
Here’s the thing: the two Temples were destroyed, Jerusalem was sacked and destroyed any number of times, the Jewish population decimated, defeated, exiled, executed, and denied again and again. But this is our city, our hometown. We, the People of the Land, are the fore-bearers and the inheritors of that less-than-stellar legacy. Call us what you will, it doesn’t much matter. Jerusalem may be home to many faiths and followers, but it was our home first. Kinda like the Indigenous Peoples of North America. We had 5000 years of turmoil; they’ve only had 500. Not to worry; their turn is coming. And we will stand with them because we know what it’s like to be denied one’s home.
And that’s another thing about being here: I’m not a minority person here. That’s a very heady feeling. I also notice the range of skin color, clothing color, scarf color, eye color, and just about every other selected color and for the most part, not too many people care. Oh, I’m sure some people care because hate is universal, but traveling from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem today, I saw lots of couples whose appearances were vastly different one from the other. I saw Arab Israelis, Ethiopian Israelis. Asian Israelis, American Israelis...all of whom were busy being Hebrew speaking Israelis. If you listed to dimwits like Ilhan Omar or Rashida Tlaib, you’d think Israelis are white Europeans. They are not. They are a veritable rainbow...as well they should be.
No, gentle readers, that doesn’t mean life is a Utopian paradise here. It doesn’t mean the government behaves well or that there is no strife. There is. Plenty of it. As I mentioned above, hate is universal and Israel has added a whole classification to internal hate. It has significantly less to do with skin than it does with how you believe. Hate flourishes on an inter-Haredi scale that is terrifying. I am equally as certain that G-d did not have this kind of incredibly poor behavior in mind when Torah was given. Nowhere in any of the canon does it say hate your neighbor, much less hate your fellow Jew. The Rabbinut has cornered that market on self-loathing and, as hard as it is to believe, antisemitism. Israel is supposed to be a democracy, and happens to be the closest government to a democracy in the entire Middle East. The last two Israeli elections have driven that point far enough home so that it is almost impossible to form a government. But that’s a different rant.
This rant is about what it means to live here, in Israel, even if I am only a visitor. Just as I consider myself to be a New Yorker living in exile in Minnesota, I am also a Jew who lives in the Diaspora. There are more and more days I wonder if I could survive making aliyah. The thought is never far from my mind (especially these days) because ultimately, this is our home turf. Once you’ve walked on it as a Jew, you get it. It feels different. And you are never the same again.
The Wifely Person’s Tip o’the Week
Oh, and lest I forget, here’s a little Muppet News Flash for the Crusaders:
ultimately, we won.