Visiting Jerusalem was definitely one of the high points of my life. For ten days last April I slept inside the walls of the Old City and walked the streets all day. Each day brought a deepening understanding of this city and what it means to the people who live there and as well as the rest of the world. While there I wrote a journal to keep those memories close and collect my thoughts for the production of THREE. Over the next few weeks as we lead up to the release of THREE and during the 5 week series I want to share some of those journal entries with you. This week I want to share with you my thoughts from my first walk through the old city of Jerusalem – a memory I will hold onto forever.
My first look at Jerusalem – Thursday April 23, 2015
The streets of Jerusalem are overwhelming to the senses. Humanity and history hit you like a ton of bricks. Inside these walls is not only thousands of years of history, but a city that’s still alive today. It’s not just a mix of tourists stalls, there are barber shops, cell phone stores, electronic repair stores, shoe stores, clothing stores, restaurants, grocery stores, everything you need to live. Right outside the Jaffa Gate is a mall with Gucci – so close it feels like you’re still inside the city.
As the sun sets the streets slowly clear. Workers and tourists head home. The shopkeepers start to store their wares, clean their shop and put out the trash. Children start to play soccer on the streets, you hear the call to prayer and before long a tractor starts to drive down the narrow roads and collect the garbage.
In the middle of all of this activity, it’s hard to notice that there are solders everywhere casually chatting near the corners while keeping a watchful eye. But as the shift changes, it’s not hard to forget that this is an occupied city as they casually walk in large groups in and out of the old city.
The ultra Orthodox Jews were another thing I noticed. It’s not like they are hard to miss as their clothes give them away. What I noticed even more though was their attitude. It’s an air that they own this place. They walk quickly and with purpose. They don’t care who is in the way. As I rolled my suitcase though the city i was nearly tripped over by several and they never paused for an apology or even a backward glance. I saw this happen to several other people too and it bothered me. I did see one moment that gave me hope that they all aren’t this way. Several of them were gathered chatting and their kids were buying snacks at a nearby shop. The kids chatted and smiled with the Muslim shopkeeper as they made their purchase.
Next week I will share with you my thoughts from the one day I took a detour into the the Palestinian controlled West Bank. This experience will bring to light what it is like for the millions of people who live on the other side of the wall built to protect Israel from groups of people have turned to violence in an effort to create a Palestinian state.
Watch the preview for our upcoming web-series set in Jerusalem – THREE.
Author: Andy Yardy