When I think about celebrating Jerusalem Day, Yom Yerushalayim, my mind immediately goes to the people. I love people watching, and while this may be a holy city with lots of important religious and ancient sites, I love to check out who is here now. Not just what they’re wearing (because some people are definitely taking fashion to a weird new level), but who these people are. Why are they here? Have they lived here for generations or are they a new immigrant on their way to opening their health insurance account at the post office (yes, what is that)?
And if these people are here, on their way to work, coming back from the shuk, going to a meet-up for entrepreneurs at a coffee shop, biking to a spring in the Jerusalem Hills, getting lost in the old city between the walls, whatever it is…I want to know them. And specifically when we celebrate this day, and as I said, the people of Jerusalem, I want to find out what they love about this city.
So that’s what I did. I spoke with Jerusalemites from all walks of life: archaeologist, rabbi, writer, doctor, new immigrants, the religious, the secular, the young and the older. I even spoke with Rachel Azaria, founder of the Yerushalayim Movement and new Member of Knesset, about living in Jerusalem. I was fascinated to hear that she could never imagine living anywhere else, and that she loves the zoo. And then to speak with Professor Arnon Samueloff, head of Shaare Zedek Medical Center’s maternity department, as he described growing up and protesting the building of the hospital, and now running one of the biggest maternity departments in the world. I spoke with Bassem Eid, a Human Rights Activist that explained to me that, as a Palestinian he most likely won’t celebrate Jerusalem Day (the day celebrates the reunification of Jerusalem under Israeli control in the aftermath of the 1967 Six-Day War) but still wanted to share what he loves about the city. And finding out that most of his answers had to do with the food.
Everyone had something unique to share. A place. An emotion. Even driving in the city (that is definitely emotional). But everyone also had one favorite thing about Jerusalem in common. Unscripted, each person shared their love for the diversity of the city. From the different neighborhoods, to the different cultures, religions, politics, opinions (there are many), and languages. And that’s how I knew, that I was really talking to the people of Jerusalem. It wasn’t a news story with an angle or agenda, that made the country look good or bad. It was their honest answers of how they see their city. A city so diverse, it brings us all together.
Listen to the people of Jerusalem, the sounds, the moments, and please share your favorite parts too. Because the list is endless, just like the city itself.