The Jerusalem of Sometimes, and of Right Now
By Ariella Amshalem
Sometimes, when I walk through the streets of Jerusalem it is the the Jerusalem of now.
Where families of ten or more juxtapose the Castro ads for butt-lifting jeans at the crosswalk to Gan Sacher.
Where young, covered heads bump shopping carts with hoarse-voiced Moroccan and Kurdish grandmothers in Machane Yehuda and Israeli tourists come to experience Channukka candle-lighting in the narrow streets of our neighborhood, while their own windowsills sit bare, somewhere outside of Tel Aviv.
And men in long black coats walk hurriedly through the streets of Shaarei Tzedek, eyes down, as the winter sun sets, spectacularly over the Valley of the Cross.
Where the quiet of Shabbat is occasionally broken by the laughter of the Sri Lankan women heading to picnic together, or the Eritrean man who talks loudly on his cell phone, despite the heavy hush all around him.
But sometimes, it is the Jerusalem of my childhood.
Copyright © Ariella Amsalem
Where the familiar smell of Rechavia hits me, as I cross Ramban Street, heading towards Ben Maimon and the popsicles at Reuven’s makolet are half a shekel.
Where my friends and I know all the shortcuts, and dart between the apartment buildings, and through the olive trees, to reach our scouts’ base.
A dozen filthy cats wait for me to return from school, and greedily lap up cottage cheese from the plastic lids, our front walkway smelling like a litter box.
Where I am as free as a 10 year old girl can be, riding busses alone, that reek of cigarettes, and spending my small change on pizza and bracelet string at Ben Yehuda.
And my mother loves the sound of the Shabbat Siren, as we walk home through the soft, quiet air to welcome guests for dinner.