juliespeaks

The unvoiced thoughts and ideas of a septegenarian.

NEW P OST- SIGNIFICANT MOMENTS

on February 18, 2012

SIGNIFICANT MOMENTS

We all have one or more significant moments in our lives – times we will never forget, whether for good or for ill. Times we might have learned something, gained some insight or simply enjoyed ourselves to a greater degree than usual. Those times for me occurred three times – all in Jerusalem.

Several years ago I wanted to go to Israel inexpensively. I knew about the Volunteers orIsraelprogram but didn’t want to be put on a military base for three weeks. I decided to construct my own volunteer program. I wrote to four universities and told them my Hebrew was not good enough to translate but their English was not good enough for publication. I offered to pay my air fare if they would provide me with room and board for three or four weeks while I did some sort of editing/writing project for them. Three responded and said please come.

That year I went to Ben Gurion University and was given a dormitory room a pass to the sports complex, an office and a computer. They had a brochure describing their undergraduate programs but did not have one for their graduate programs. That was my assignment.  Faculty members were friendly and I was often invited to dinner at someone’s home. The University’s medical school has an outreach program and I had the opportunity to accompany a doctor and a few students to a Bedouin village.

Three years later I accepted Hebrew U’s offer and got the same deal. There I was attached to the P.R. department where I wrote press releases on students in the Rothschild School for Overseas Students to be sent to their home town newspapers. I was able to choose the most unique, interesting people. What, for example, do you suppose a nun fromChinais doing in Israel studying Hebrew? Or, an Irish doctoral candidate working on a dissertation which is a comparison of the revival of Hebrew with Gaelic?  I had the BEST time.

One more.  I once rented an apartment in the Old City for eight weeks and waltzed out every morning, past the Kotel, the Wailing Wall, and down to the City ofDaviddig. I caused a bit of a stir one day by nonchalantly holding up a shard and loudly proclaiming, “A bone. I found a bone.” Now, you don’t do that when Orthodox rabbis are patrolling the grounds, attempting to ensure the dead are respected. You don’t! I have a collection of antique cobalt blue pieces among which one item stands out because it doesn’t fit. It is the handle of a Roman water jug and tucked into the handle is a note of appreciation from the Director of the dig.

I had with me that summer my thirteen year old son and a nephew. Each morning the boys raced down to the suk – the Arab marketplace – and returned with freshly baked pita bread.  On the fourth of July the Jerusalem Symphony conducted the 1812 Overture in a park. Neither of the boys had any familiarity with classical music but my son – now in his 40s has never since missed a performance of that masterpiece.

One of the things I learned from that experience is how content I am in small places. At home – a nine room house, dog, two car overstuffed garage, unkempt yard – had become more than I wanted to deal with. In that small two bedroom Jerusalem apartment (with no car to fuel, insure, and license – no mechanic to deal with) I found a large measure of peace and contentment. On Friday afternoon at three o’clockI’d tell the boys it was time to clean-up for the Sabbath. At four o’clock it was done. Try doing that in a nine room house laden with dog hair in the corners.

And the stones – I love the stones. It may sound silly but, for me, the stones of Jerusalem are not inanimate objects at all. They have listened to the pleadings of Isaiah and heard Job’s cries of anguish. They bear the scars of Roman war machines and Crusader swords. They stand proud and tall and boldly announce there is, in fact, some measure of hope in the world.

It is too late for me to repeat any of those experiences but they are among my fondest memories and I shall be forever grateful for the opportunity to have experienced them.

Julie Rose

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