Home Digital Content Library On My Way Home, July 26, 2019

On My Way Home, July 26, 2019

I left Israel late Wednesday night,

but, one really never leaves that land. Its smells, sights, and sensations

weave its way into the mind like images in a dream.


Most days, early in the morning, when the air was still cool and

the streets were mostly empty, I would run from my apartment near Emeq Rafa’im

up toward the center of the city. I’d pass through the renovated train station

turned into a hub of restaurants, stores and gathering places over the tracks

up toward the King David Hotel. I’d pass the park with the iconic Windmill and

then the Hebrew Union College where I studied for a year many decades ago. I’d

turn right into the Mamilla Mall, an ironic twist of a poor, dangerous

neighborhood pre-1967 resurrected into an architectural masterpiece of an open

aired high end commerce and shopping center. I couldn’t help but smile as I ran

along the corridor of re-claimed stone.


At the end, a stairway led up into a different universe. I ran

up the two flights of stairs.


Right in front of me, the old city with its thick walls, Tower

of David, and the doorway of Jaffa Gate presented itself with all its glory and

storied history. Each time I ascended, I felt like it was waiting quietly and

majestically for people like me to behold its presence. It’s hard not to feel

small, not just in size, but also in time against the backdrop of its long



I’d run along the outside to the left, up and around the corner

toward the Damascus Gate and East Jerusalem, and then turn back and trace the

same path. There is a great distance between the western part of the city where

Jaffa Gate stands and the eastern part near Damascus Gate, not in meters

though. The hard stones of the wall face the realities and difficulties of the

Palestinian population who reside there in East Jerusalem. The early morning

stillness may mask some of it, but it is there: dormant for the moment and in

need of resolution.


As I run back past the walls, the city is waking up, as yeshiva

students rush toward their classes and people of all nationalities head toward

their day.


I end up back at my apartment just a few blocks where I had

lived during my first year in rabbinic school. I head up the hill toward the

Hartman Institute and dive in with my study partner deciphering the texts

before us, which regardless of the topic, take us on another journey of what

Rav Kook, the first chief rabbi of Israel espoused about this land.


The old becomes new and the new becomes holy.


It’s good to be home with Israel in my mind’s eye. I shall not

forget you, O Jerusalem.