I think it is about time to post about the marvelous city I live in now! Jerusalem is full of vibrant, cultured, historic sights, traditions, and people. It is a place where I feel a sense of home. When I first visited Jerusalem this past winter, I felt the same sense of belonging and wonder. How does a city, which has endured so much scorn and controversy, maintain such a hopeful presence and symbol of faith? I discovered that its people are its past, present, and future who hold this city together. From the Kotel, to the Old City, and to all the sites in between such as where Muhammed went to God at Temple on the Rock, or where Jesus was nailed to the cross, or where Moses created the 10 Commandments from God, and to where Jews from around the world have a right to call home, Jerusalem is the place that holds many symbols for all people.
Many people ask if I feel safe living here. My answer is simply you need to educate yourself. I know there is controversy and hate, I see it almost everyday. People from Israeli and Arabic origin both have claim and history in Jerusalem, yet in many communities they can live peacefully, which I have also seen. Media is a large portion of the distortion of news and blaming one side or another for particular incidents. Who is responsible, who needs to be help accountable? This land is home to many people, yet it is a struggle for both sides to really understand the other. It is political, yet I strongly urge those who have one mindset towards any particular side to educate yourself in a well-rounded manner. Do not listen to media sources that lean to one side; it is difficult, yet a true voice is out there to explain the right and just information. I say that in any city you go there is going to be some sort of conflict, yet it is your responsibility to understand what is acceptable and what may put you in harms way. Respect the culture you are immersing yourself into, and that is the best way to start in living and understanding new places around the world.
Culture is everywhere you go in Jerusalem, each neighborhood is full of interesting and fun places to experience. I live right by the Knesset, the Israeli government and the Israel Museum. The view from my apartment is spectacular! I am also a short walk away from the famous Ben Yehuda street with many shops and delicious places to eat, and the Shuk, a partially open and closed market with spices, fruits, vegetables and fun odds and ends. I am learning more Hebrew, the owner of the shop I get my fruit and vegetables at forces me to speak in Hebrew and he teaches me new words as I walk around his stand and point to things. He has this fantastic story about the time when he move to the United State in New York. He was 22 years old. He tells me he did not know a drop of English, so he would ask people to teach him things as he experienced the city. Now, he is about 50 and he does the same with people who are trying to learn Hebrew. It is difficult sometimes, yet a fun way to learn!
A little project that I am working on is taking pictures of doorways around the city. Some of these doors are so intricate or just capture my interest, so I take a photo of them. There are some religious doors to Armenian churches, store fronts, homes, and everything in between. It is fun to just walk down a street and see some of the most intricate art and architecture. Jerusalem has it all, and you can find a new place around any corner you turn. I highly recommend just roaming the streets and finding new places. I try to take new ways home after work so I can see new streets and neighborhoods. It keeps me exploring even after a long day of work.
Jerusalem night life is also exciting. Going out in the Shuk or walking down different streets to find little bars. There is an area called Crack Square where there are a bunch of places to dance, enjoy live music, and outdoor patios. A night out could also look like going to get delicious ice-cream, I recommend Mussolini Ice Cream, or crepes, which is a signature in Jerusalem. I tried a new crepe place last night, and one of the bakers was from Paris, so I was also able to practice my French for my trip to France soon to come!
Places and food are very affordable, I spend most of my “fun-budget”on food and new places. There are so many cafes to try; my favorite so far is one right off of Ben Yehuda Street called, Tmol Shilshom. It is filled with books, plays great music, and has a cute balcony to sip coffee and do work on while enjoying the colorful view of a street lined with umbrellas overhead.
If you follow me on Instagram (which you should), you will see I hashtag most of my photos, #thriving, because I truly do thrive here in Jerusalem. I have a solid tan, the sun is warm, the air is refreshing, and the adventure has no end. I am happy. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I enjoy going new places and experiencing the culture. Now, living and learning the culture is where I find myself to feel most alive. The world is worth exploring, and I intend to keep doing so as I move onto new experiences.