leon gork tour guide
Newsletter 212: Things that nobody talks about
I just thought of an alternative name for my no newsletter; “Things that nobody talks about”.
While sitting on my balcony, early in the morning, the sun starting to rise and it’s still nice and cool, I read the morning newspaper; either the Yediot or Haaretz. The Yediot is a sensationalist newspaper; everything is dramatized with big pictures in color of someone crying from joy or from sadness, something burning, a tank, a house, a forest, whatever catches people’s attention.This newspaper gets the emotions stirred up like a sizzling, frying egg. Haaretz’ headlines elicit more moderate reactions; the events of the day are presented modestly in neat print on a simple white background. In Haaretz it’s not the way the news is presented which gets attention but the content of the news.
My balcony faces the Judean Desert, all light brown and wavy with soft hills and valleys. A single road cuts a black streak with a single car on its way to the Dead Sea going East or to Tel Aviv, going West.
I’ve just finished watering the lovely flowers which I complained about when Ettie made me plant them. Now they’re lovely and color our balcony with green and bits of red, blue and yellow. I water the flowers once every two days. I can’t figure out why I’m so opposed to watering flowers; maybe it’s the price of water, maybe it’s the time it takes from my reading.
I really don’t want to spend time reading the newspaper, I have some articles and books to read that, in my opinion are much more important than the newspapers. But they are about things that happened a long time ago and I’ll struggle all my life to understand them and why they happened. But I confess I really must find out what people have to say about the important events taking place around us at this moment; no matter how important the past the present is the most important.
If it wasn’t for my determination to get back to my books I’d spend my life reading the news. I also read the news in the different languages I use in my work; German, Spanish and Dutch. This I do on my smartphone, where I have a great selection of dictionaries; I’m a little peeved and amazed that even after learning these languages for 10 or 12 years I still need to look words up in a dictionary, actually I still need to use a dictionary for English, which I’ve been speaking since I got it from my mother. She left out some words and now I have to find them. It just goes to show that even Ma wasn’t perfect.
I also have a bad habit of forgetting words even after I’ve looked them up dozens of times. Take the word “ubiquitous” for example, I keep forgetting its meaning.(seeming to be everywhere). It’s just that these words aren’t required for most of the things we say in daily parlance. In fact using these esoteric words might distort the meaning of the things we say daily.
Nevertheless I think these words should be used and we should find opportunities to use them. I do this by, recalling, after a day of guiding, the things I explained, and then I try to find a different way of saying them. It’s just a game that I play with myself; it keeps them nice and fresh and helps me understand the true meaning of things I’ve said or didn’t say.
On the first day of the war I took a couple for a walk along the Via Dolorosa; these days we date everything according to the war. Now for example we’re in the 6th day of the war. This couple wasn’t put off by the war. You can imagine how happy I was to be touring, considering the circumstances.
It was, in fact a stroke of luck that they made it to the tour; they told me that the evening before they had been at a wedding when the siren went off, warning everybody to take shelter in an air raid shelter, or in a specially fortified room. That’s quite a scary experience, yet they made it to the tour the next day.
Actually there’s no real danger in the situation, as long as you take shelter; we have the Iron Dome defensive anti-rocket system, which is capable of identifying the exact spot where the rocket is aimed at the moment it is launched and it automatically fires a counter rocket that shoots the attacking rocket out of the sky. It’s absolutely thrilling and we watch it in action from the comfort and safety of our sitting rooms. In case you don’t have direct broadcasts from Israel you can see the videos on You Tube, just type in IDF or Iron Dome in the search line.
You might be thinking that people get hysterical when the siren goes off, but this is not the case at all; everybody walks calmly to the allocated shelter. It’s wonderful to see. I experienced a siren while I was in the library and everybody knew the signal, put down their pens and stood up like one man and calmly, even dawdling, to the basement where there was a shelter. After the “all clear” we simply went back to our seats and carried on doing whatever we were busy with.
The siren went off while I was on my morning walk and I should have laid flat on the ground, but I was all alone and felt quite ridiculous doing this, so I just carried on walking.
It turned out that the tour was scheduled for the same day that I had an appointment with a cardiologist at Shaarei Zedek Hospital to arrange my heart rehabilitation program. Luckily the tourists were willing to start the tour at 11 o’clock, so I had time for my appointment and the tour.
The cardiologist ordered me to walk for ½ hr. each day, which I’m now doing obediently. In any case I used to do this many years ago and I’d given up because of my condition, now I’m positively thrilled to be able to do it again, it’s like a miracle.
This tourist had discovered me on my website and we’d corresponded back and forth on this wonderful invention, the email, to fix the itinerary, the price and the date. We had decided on a Christian theme; the beginnings of Christianity as an official religion, recognized by Rome.
Suitably, we started exactly where it began, on a quiet, narrow, cobble stoned, alley way street known as St. George Str. or the street of the Copts, the first officially recognized Christian community, a brand of Christianity, practiced at first in Egypt, then spreading to Syria and Persia, before setting down deep roots in Jerusalem. Here we could also talk quietly, much better than walking through the busy, noisy Arab market.
We met at the Jaffa Gate with the idea of visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and then walking the Via Dolorosa.
The Old City was quiet, not because of the war but because of Ramadan, , a time when Moslems fast in the day time, so they were at home resting and not crowding the Old City streets.
There were still many tourists in the Old City, so many, in fact that the usual long line had formed at the entrance of Jesus’ tomb, causing a wait of about an hour. My tourists just took a peek and I explained the history of the tomb. They could come back later for a more thorough visit on their own.
In the days of Constantine it was a much more decorated structure than the one standing here today, which was built by the Crusaders. According to Byzantine writers the roof was studded with precious jewels.
Constantine built the church for the edification of the Roman Empire and it symbolized the unity of the Empire. Rome was united in this church because each of Rome’s 6 Christian colonies; Rome, Egypt, Constantinople, Syria, Armenia and Ethiopia had its center here, in Jerusalem.
The Church is the spiritual domain of these 6 nations, who were once colonies of Rome and formed the Roman Empire. In addition each of these 6 communities has their own street or Monastery in Jerusalem.
Wishing you a great No News day