Israel: Part V – Just another Shabbat in Jerusalem…

November 17, 2017- Shabbat

I LOVE Shabbat. Twenty-four plus hours of unplugged bliss and freedom from the daily grind. I’m guaranteed uninterrupted time with the hubby and to see my friends at synagogue and often for lunch. Time just ceases to exist…and this Shabbat I got to spend with the kid for the first time since September 9th.

Last night the kid announced she was meeting classmates from her high school who are also attending a “gap year” (the year between senior year of high school and first year in undergraduate school) in Israel, most of whom live in or near Jerusalem. So off she went to Ben Yehuda where young adults like to hang out before Shabbat and the friends gorged on pizza for lunch and caught up on each others lives. The hubby and I opted to do one of our favorite pre-Shabbat activities – walk through Machane Yehuda – a neighborhood in Jerusalem known as the shuk, a marketplace of multiple stalls filled with food, drink, merchandise, bars and restaurants and jam-packed with people shopping for their Shabbat meals.

Being there in person is the only way one can truly experience the flavors, aromas, colors and people interaction of this place.

Since meals were provided at the hotel we didn’t purchase any goods, but it was still fun taking in the action and stopping at our favorite falafel stand before heading back to home base.

The hubby and I decided to eat our falafel sandwiches on the hotel balcony overlooking King George Street when we heard a woman singing on the street below. Finishing our lunch, we strolled over to the railing and searched for the secret serenader.

Draped in an Israeli flag and wearing a crown made of foiled Magen David stars (Star of David), the lady singer wrapped crepe streamers around the electrical poles on the corner. Joined by another occupant of the hotel asking if we knew what was going on, the hubby hypothesized it had something to do with the 50th anniversary of the 1967 War. This seemed to satisfy the man’s curiosity, which I figured made as much sense as any other reason…but then the weekly Pro-Palestinian protestors appeared on the opposite corner…and the flag-draped crooner started dancing up and down the sidewalk and into traffic…so I guess there may have been other alternate theories…


This is when my interrogation of the stranger began (I’m really good at this – I can get people to confess some of the most personal stories of their lives, which at times can be very awkward). Upon introductions, his name is “Jeremy” and he is a “retired geological engineer” now living in Washington D.C. but comes to Israel to “consult” several times a year. This time he was joined by his “two buddies from down south” who decided to do some “exploring” around Jerusalem. Questioning why a retired geological engineer would consult several times a year in Israel, I pretended to understand Jeremy’s explanation of basics hydraulics and water technology. Feeling bold, I then questioned if he was originally from Washington, D.C., having detected an accent of southwestern influence, to which he admits he is a Native American from New Mexico. And then the hubby suddenly declared exhaustion and left me alone on the balcony with Jeremy. After a little small talk, Jeremy decided he was going to see if his buddies had returned and wished me a Shabbat Shalom.

Here’s where I’m the trustful one and the hubby more suspicious. Schooled in anthropology and becoming a social worker later in life, I was trained to listen and take notes. I’m also naive – I need to believe that what you are telling me is real (or at least I believe that you believe it to be real). The hubby comes from a very different educational background. He proclaimed that “Jeremy” (if that’s his real name) works for the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) and is “full of shit,” stating that Mr. Secret Agent’s story is “too clean” – that being a geological engineer who consults on water projects in Israel is too easy and a substandard fabrication. And where are these “buddies” of his?! “Buddies, my ass…” As for D.C.? Apparently that’s where Jeremy blew is cover…

Grabbing a bottle of wine, I headed for the balcony off our hotel room and sat to watch the pre-Shabbat chaos while waiting for the kid to return from her pizza outing. Surrounded by the incessant honking of car horns, people were frantically racing to make it home in time for Shabbat (which was at 4:03p.m.), one of whom was a man carrying a mattress on his head…only in Israel…Around 3:30p.m., I became riveted by a middle-age man dressed in a suit and holding a bottle of wine as he stood on the median in the middle of the busy intersection trying to hail a taxi. Worried for him, I vowed not to leave the balcony until he caught a ride. I could feel the panic in his face. As the clock ticked louder and louder, I prayed he would find someone to offer him a lift to his Shabbat host. With ten minutes to candle lighting, a taxi pulled over and the man was on his way! Let’s go eat!

November 18, 2017- Yemen Moshe

Having the whole day to ourselves while the kid caught up on some much needed sleep, the hubby and I decided to walk down to Yemen Moshe. A small village built in the 1890s as a response to overcrowding, it is made up of the first Jewish properties built outside the Old City walls. Yemen Moshe is named for its original builder Moses Montefiore, for whom the famous Montefiore Windmill is named. Being that it was Shabbat, I was unable to take photos. It’s one of my favorite places to go in Jerusalem (and if I had a million dollars, I’d totally buy a piece of property there).

Returning to the hotel, we were greeted by “Jeremy” standing on the hotel stairway outside flanked by his “buddies” (who appeared more like bodyguards)…hmm…

Once Shabbat was over, we headed back to Machane Yehuda. I had recently read about Solomon Souza, a graffiti artist who started painting portraits and other figures on the doors of the stalls in the shuk beginning in 2015, and I was dying to see them for myself.

Only visible when the shuk is closed, dozens and dozens of doors are colorfully decorated with whimsical characters…

And dozens more of famous Israelis splattered across the market…

And then doors began opening and the bars and restaurants slowly came to life…

After heading to Ben Yehuda for some dinner, we wandered back to the hotel and enjoyed the little shops along King George Street before turning in for the night…

Israelis take their candy very seriously

…and we never saw “Jeremy” again…

“Mr. cab driver won’t stop to pick me up
Mr. cab driver I might need some help
Mr. cab driver only thinks about himself”

Mr. Cab Driver – Lenny Kravitz

“I had run for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours.” – Forrest Gump


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