I hear you. Our City of Gold is bleeding. But, maybe it’s not so bad. Maybe it’s just how you look at it. My son and I are here for only two weeks. Not a lot of time at all. But enough time to make some observations on the country as a whole and Jerusalem specifically.
First, the purpose of our trip? Show my son where he’ll be living after high school. That’s right. We came to visit Keshet Yehuda, up in the Golan, and that’s all it took. He’ll be returning in August to their mechina program in preparation for IDF service, and life in Israel. Nefesh b’Nefesh has been an incredible resource. Kudos to their experience and insight.
He and I spent some time in Tel Aviv. Joyful. Exciting. The place where my 18-year-old enjoyed a beer. The smile on his face when the waitress brought him a second beer. (Apparently, I forgot to explain to him about Happy Hour.) Locals at the beach, kids riding bikes, dinner at Port Tel Aviv, our trendy, boutique hotel full. It feels good to us.
What did we see in the Golan? While waiting for the bus from Tiberias to Katzrin, my son spotted the kosher McDonald’s. Enough said. He returned, Chicken Nuggets and fries in hand. His only disappointment? They didn’t have all day breakfast. He told me that he spoke to a female soldier also on line. Turns out that this soldier is actually from our hometown. He didn’t catch her name, but I want to thank her for showing him how small the Jewish world is. And to the boys at the mechina and the people at the moshav, thank you for taking my son in and immediately making him feel at home. It feels good to us.
What did we see in Jerusalem? Our hotel, busy with tour groups. Yet, Ben Yehuda Street and Machane Yehuda, a bit emptier than we expected. But the wonderful kid working at the falafel stand? I overheard that he and his parents left Germany. His parents went to America, but he came to start a life in Israel. In Jerusalem. So proud. My new friend Jodi, expecting her first child, told me about the wonderful life she and her husband are building right here. In Jerusalem. Again, so proud. It feels good to us.
We’re heading back to Tel Aviv today, back to that same trendy boutique hotel. It’ll be a busy last few days in Israel. My son is running in the Tel Aviv Marathon. We’ve got tickets to the Jethro Tull show. Exciting. Fun. Cool. The stuff life is made of. It feels good to us.
Is Jerusalem — or for that matter all of Israel — bleeding? I don’t see it. But please come, see for yourself.