I walked my feet off this morning in the Old City of Jerusalem. I joined about another 150 people on a tour, organized by Women In Green, and led both in English and Hebrew. The English guide was the incredible Daniel Luria, director of Ateret Cohanim. And if there's anyone who knows the Old City, it is Daniel.
We trekked through the narrow twisty cobble-stone streets of the Old Jewish Quarter (today's Arab Quarter) and visited the properties that were redeemed by the Ateret Cohanim/Jerusalem Reclamation Foundation. This trip was actually part two of a tour I had taken a few weeks again of Jewish Eastern Jerusalem with Daniel Luria. I wrote about it a few weeks ago: http://voices-magazine.blogspot.com/2010/03/jewish-eastern-jerusalem.html
You can see the videos of that trip here:
Life in the Old City, especially the Old Jewish Quarter is unlike anywhere else in the world. To get to any apartment (or maybe just the ones that we saw - our luck :) ), you've got to walk through the windingest alleyways, climb rows and rows of narrow broken stairs, sometimes even go through other buildings on the way to yours. Arab graffiti is plentiful and the streets vary from packed with pushing people to empty.
It was very evident that the Old City is a place for young feet. Although everyone on our tour DID IT!!, and some of the folks were in their 70s, it's surely not an easy life.
Okay, let's put aside the Zionistic aspect of reclaiming Jewish property in the Old City, which is an immense and worthy undertaking - perhaps the worthiest, since this adds Jewish life to the area closest to Har HaBayit, the Temple Mount - let's just talk about regular life.
How do the women of the Old Jewish Quarter push their baby strollers through those uneven and bumpy narrow streets? How do they carry their strollers up 150 steps at a time? How do they bring in their groceries? Hm, how did they get their furniture up to their apartments when they moved in??
Besides the getting around difficulty, most of the Jewish homes we visited were tiny. And most of the families are large. The children play on rooftop playgrounds, which, I hope, provide enough room for fun for them. But how do they fit B"H bli ayin hara such giant families into their apartments?? And why would they stay for so many years in such difficult circumstances?
Daniel Luria said proudly, "There's still a thing called idealism today."
There's so much more to say....So, more to come!!