Thursday, July 21, 2005

I was on my way home from a shopping trip at "Kanyon Malkha" (the big shopping mall in Jerusalem) in a taxi when some familiar vocabulary came over the radio. There's just been some kind of "event" (involving words with many peh's and tzadee's, aka stuff blowing up) in London as I write this. I still don't know much -- there was something about Shepherd's Bush station, which I initially thought was President Bush, but describing him as a Shepherd [Ro'eh] was just a little *too* weird. Thank goodness for my cabbie-cum-Hebrew teacher, who cleared that one up.

He and I agreed it sounded like "ha terror" and that it sounded "rah" [bad], and "meshuggah" [crazy]. He asked where I was from, and I explained that I'm from California but lived here three years ago as a student. "Ahhhhh! So you understand," he said in Hebrew. "Yes," I said, and we rode in silence for a while, listening to the news on the radio.

When I got to the hotel, the shomer [guard] who has been waving me into the hotel for days now went diligently through my bags. Security has been increased here, just in the space of a cab ride.

I'm writing this now so that friends won't worry. (Seriously, I'm fine. I am having dinner tonight with my friend Ellen.) Soon I will write about some of my other adventures here -- it's been too hard to get to a computer to post much. Suffice it to say that as always, I'm glad I came to Jerusalem.

Monday, July 18, 2005

On this summer's travels, I have grabbed email in some odd places, little internet kiosks here and there. This place takes the prize, though, and is so novel that I feel the need to post about it. I'm in the Old City of Jerusalem, a few yards off the path between the Kotel (Western Wall) and the Cardo (shopping /archaeological area). There are about ten terminals crammed into a little stone closet here, and people are tapping away in assorted languages.

Jerusalem is a different city than the one I remember from three years ago. Business is up, traffic is wild, and even the tourists are riding buses again. The current big conflict has to do with the expulsion of the settlements from Gaza. All over town, you see ribbons in either orange or blue, expressing opinions about it. Orange signifies opposition to expulsion; blue signifies support for Sharon's plan. I've seen more orange in more odd places lately -- seems that there is a new fashion for tallitot (prayer shawls) with orange stripes.

I have my own opinions on this, mostly that Israelis didn't belong in Gaza in the first place, so no orange ribbons for me, and definitely no orange striped tallit! It is interesting that ritual wear has become a medium for political expression.

And then there are the things that do not change. I took a stroll Shabbat evening on King David Street, enjoying the breeze and the dark blue sky. Traffic was almost nonexistent. People were out walking, enjoying the cool air after a brutally hot day. The Old City loomed in the background, reminding us that this is truly the city on the edge of forever.