leon gork tour guide
Newsletter 67: Concern for Israel
Shabbat, was the day for visiting my princess. She really looked like a princess in her pink silk, mini-skirt, over pink and white striped long stockings, wearing Shabbat shoes and covered in a fluffy pink cape to keep off the cold.
As usual Tamar met Ettie with a big hug and took her to have her by herself in her little kingdom. I was left, feeling jealous, to chat with Emanuel who was coughing his head off. We comforted and warmed ourselves with a little Cherry Heering.
One day last week there weren't any tourists for me to guide so I did some chores and discovered that's more tiring than guiding tourists. Exhausted as I was I rode my bicycle to the get my regular heart and blood pressure medicine from the clinic at the top of the hill. Probably pedaling up the hill is the best medicine.
I also went to my post box, something I don't do very often and found some beautiful greetings from people I hadn't seen for a long time; tourists who had toured with me. The greatest reward I have from my work is that such wonderful people found interest and pleasure in touring with me.
Many of the letters I get express concern about the future of Israel, but I don't think that we are in greater danger here than people are in other countries;. Ahmadinajad's atom bomb is frightening for everyone not only for Israel. The tragic murder of Benazir Butto and the murder of innocent people in Kenya are danger signals for the whole world not just for Israel.
When Ahmadinajad or Al Kaida says its target is Israel the rest of the world relaxes a bit thinking that Israel is really the target and not them. This is exactly what Ahmadinajad wants. When President Bush and other world leaders express their concern for Israel's future they're unwittingly promoting this false feeling of security in the rest of the world.
In my list of things to do guiding always comes first even if it means not being at home or not spending time with the family, so I had to miss the performance of Verdi's opera "The power of destiny" on Friday when, unexpectedly someone needed a guide.
I consoled myself with the thought that Jerusalem's history is more full of drama than any opera and the prayers chanted at the church of the holy sepulcher and at the Western Wall could be considered operatic arias recounting the dramatic events of history. This explains why I like beautiful Synagogue cantorial music and Church choir music.
Usually I listen to music while writing my no news bulletin. At the moment I'm listening to Benny Goodman live at Carnegie Hall.
I always have trouble remembering the names of the jazz and classical music I enjoy. This isn't serious until I want to buy more music of a particular composer. The solution is to make a check list of the CD's I've got and put it on a website so that I can check it in the record shop when I want to buy new music. That way I know that I'll be buying something new that I haven't heard before.
The other night I was a bit shocked by a TV article discussing the popularity of tattooing in Israel. My opinion about this is best summed up by this quote about dressing "punky", from the musical Veronica Mars, which I think also explains the popularity of tattooing:
"A lot of kids dress to conceal themselves a little bit ... Veronica dressed really tough because she felt hurt and vulnerable and dressed to try to combat that. I would hope that Veronica would choose to be vulnerable a little bit more. She's so sarcastic."
(Kristen Bell is in her third season as "Veronica Mars," shot in the outskirts of San Diego.)
On my walking tour on Friday we came to El Wad Street at about 11 o'clock, the most crowded time of the week. Here you find Moslems, Jews and Christians all walking together because it leads from the Damascus Gate to the Mosque and to the Western Wall and there are 3 stations of the Way of the Cross
It's the only part of the Old City where you can see Moslem shops in buildings with an Israeli flag flying above. Here is the best Arab coffee house in town next to a store selling crosses and another selling copies of the Koran and another selling kipas and hanukiyas. Here you'll also find Abu Shukri, one of the most famous Humus places in the Old City.
Thousands of Moslems on their way to the mosque, in a great rush to be on time for the Friday midday prayer. It’s not customary in Islam, as it is in Judaism, to pray with a congregation, excepting at the Friday midday prayer. They walk side by side with Christians, who are constantly stopping to pray at the various Stations of the Cross and bearded Jews with side curls (payot), in their long black coats and furry hats, in a rush to make up the quorum of ten (minyan) for prayer. Nobody wants to keep the congregation waiting.
El Wad Street is also one of the most historic streets of the Old City; you can still see the gigantic roman paving stones. At the beginning, under the Ottoman period Damascus Gate is the original gate of Aelia Capitolina, the city Hadrian built in honor of Jupiter instead of the city of Jerusalem, considered to be the main cause of the Bar Kochba rebellion.
Wishing you a great no news day