05 August 2010

My Vacation Day

I work for an Orthodox institution which has shortened hours during chol hamoed Pesach and Sukkot and during Hanukah. Consequently, I usually end up using my vacation time to cover those lost hours and it doesn't leave over much for a summer vacation. Today was the day I chose for my one summer vacation day. Guess where I went!

Question: Where do you go on vacation when the world's most spectacular spot is in your own backyard?

Answer: You vacation in your own backyard, of course!

For the price of a 15 min, $1.50 bus ride, I can travel right to the center of the world. And I can do it any day of the week, 365 days a year. What a deal, huh?

I'm a Yerushalmi. Out of the abundance of His mercy and His kindness, Hashem brought me up to live close to Him in His palace---His Holy City Yerushalayim.

Today, instead of soaking up the sun on the beach in Tel Aviv, I decided to soak up some kedusha. Also, instead of rushing through the city like I usually do, I played tourist and walked slowly, taking in all the sights with a fresh perspective. It really is a very beautiful city. G-d forbid that I should ever take her (or my place within her) for granted! Thank you, Hashem!!

I took the number 60 bus from the center of town to the entrance to Mamilla. I tried to take a picture to show you and that's how I discovered that my camera's batteries had died.

(Take a 3-D virtual tour of it HERE.)

I walked through the new Mamilla outdoor mall with all its fancy, expensive shops since I had not done so since its opening. I found that all I had been missing were the vast collection of immodest graven images on display throughout the promenade and a huge church with crosses that overlooks it.

The entrance through Shaar Yafo is still under some kind of construction and the Arab shuk on David St is still congested with tourists. Some things don't change. I sat in the shade of some palm trees near the Cardo to make some notes for this post and perused the local bulletin board out of force of habit. I'm always on the lookout for housing in the Old City. Just my luck, there was an ad for a 2.5 room apartment for ONLY 1.5 million sheqels.

I wandered around the Jewish Quarter for a bit and happened upon a musical group performing for a bar mitzvah crowd. It was really cool so I decided it would be worthwhile to buy new batteries and make a video to share with you. By the time I got back, it was just breaking up. Oh well!

Next I visited my favorite bookstore---Moriah---in the Rova. I replaced a book I had given away and bought two new ones, both by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan. Can't wait to get started on them. Yummy spiritual food!! And speaking of food…

I chose a nice Mehadrin shwarma place for lunch that looked out on the new Hurva Synagogue. Shwarma b'pita im humus v'çharif (rak ktsat), gam chatzilim aval b'li salatim, toda. I don’t trust anyone in any public eatery to actually wash the outsides of their vegetables, so I take my shwarma with humus and a bit of hot sauce and fried eggplant without salads. I watched the steady activity out on the Rova Plaza, the open area in the middle of the Jewish Quarter. There were lots of obviously Israeli families with young kids. That made me really happy. The steady stream of Arab women cutting through the Jewish Quarter to get to Kfar Shiloach didn't.

The descent to the Kotel is lovely this time of year.
Say hello to the Temple Menorah on the way down. And may Hashem make us zoche to watch it being moved into its future permanent home within the Temple precincts!

Then it was time to take care of the King's business. Time to daven Minchah, which unlike Shacharit, is a pleasure because the Kotel is in direct sun and it's very hot (93/34 today) and consequently, there are much fewer people there; no trouble at all getting face time with the last remnant of the wall that supported our Holy Temple.
Then there are those who don't need to stand and wait for room to open up.
On the way out, I heard some singing coming from the men's side and thought I might still get some sounds of Yerushalayim on video for those of you who are far away.

This is a look back up towards the Jewish Quarter from the way out of the Kotel Plaza to the buses. One is the new Aish Building and the other shows the historic Porat Yosef Yeshiva.


This sight was a bit jarring. At the entrance to the Davidson Center, a large plasma screen with video has been installed. I have to say that I did not appreciate this juxtaposition of ancient and modern.
I only waited a few minutes for a bus and then twenty minutes later I was back at my door. All in all a very nice little vacation. I hope you enjoyed it, too!

(PS. Click on any picture for a larger, clearer image.)