Oh Jerusalem!

Sally Dickman

My favorite place in Israel so far has been the Old City and within the Old City, specifically the Cardo. It’s so beautiful and teeming with life, and what I find truly amazing is how four different cultures exist on top of one another in one city. Everyone’s distinct culture and lives are a core part of Israel and Jerusalem’s history, as we’ve been learning.

We spent some time again in the Old City this week, as we learned about the beginning of Christianity. We were given some free time in the Jewish Quarter during lunch, so I took the opportunity to visit the Cardo to buy more jewelry for my friends. I went into a cute store (Mira) with two friends, where I had previously bought a necklace. My friend Rina was looking for a necklace with her name on it. When we entered the store, the seller was very friendly and remembered me from a few weeks ago. We asked him if he sold necklaces with names, he said, “no, sorry”, but without us asking, he pointed us towards another store (also) named Rina.

We went into the other store and the seller there was also very nice and trusting. He quickly made a necklace for Rina after letting her design what she wanted. I found a necklace too, but my debit card wasn’t working, and neither was Rina’s. The owner was extremely trusting. He gave me the necklace I wanted and said I could come back and pay him when he was done with Rina’s necklace, and if that didn’t work out, we could figure it out later over the phone. The trust the owner had in a teenager was astounding and very beautiful to me. At home, I can’t imagine any store owner letting someone leave without paying, simply trusting that we would do the right thing later on. 

Right past the Cardo is the Muslim shuk, which we are not allowed to enter because of safety concerns. Knowing already how gorgeous Jerusalem is, it is sad to think that any part of the city isn’t safe enough for us to enter. Walking around the Christian quarter on Tuesday, that sense of division felt so far away. It was amazing to see how many people were out and about, and how welcoming they all were. It was a beautiful reminder that although some parts of the city are at odds right now (and for many years), others are coexisting and living happily. It would be wonderful if someday every part of the city be open in this way. The shop owner placing his trust in me, a strange teenage girl, gives me hope that one day this will happen more broadly, and that Jerusalem can be whole to all the cultures that call this special place home.

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