I grew up in Lionville, Pennsylvania, a suburb outside of Philadelphia. More country then town back then, I played in the woods and lived a good life there. But, when I was 18, I joined the US Navy and left behind my childhood and the town I once called home.
But, I did dream of another Lionville.
Then one day, I was here. Just like that.
I didn’t know back then that Jerusalem would become my New Lionville. I wouldn’t have thought much about its flag emblazoned with the gold and blue symbol of The Lion of the tribe of Judah. Leaving one Lionville for another and all that took place between that going and this coming has taught me a thing or two about dreams and reality.
Strangely, they both seem to be what we make them.
When I was 16, I applied to work on a kibbutz. But, you know the kind of teenager I was; I daydreamed about doing things more than doing anything substantial about my dreams. I never followed through and never came to Israel. Thus began my life of wandering and wondering. Yes, those two things can sort of go together like peanut butter and jelly.
But, Israel kept coming up in my mind and in my dreams, I imagined the day that I would stand at The Kotel to pray my Jewish dreams.
It strikes me as simply amazing that this one 35 year old dream of coming to live in Jerusalem has now become my reality. Shortly after I made aliyah last year, I did stand at The Kotel and I did pray a Jewish dream. I guess if you really want something bad enough, from your heart, sometimes dreams really do come true, even in spite of life’s doubts, despair, twists and turns. It’s too cliche to write this but my fingers are nevertheless typing these words: Hope springs eternal. If this hadn’t recently become my actual life experience, I’d probably still not know what that means.
But I do now.
Just the other week, Jerusalem Day came and went. I went down to The Kotel again. This time, I carried a Jerusalem City flag with me and waved it around with a friend. There were a lot of Israeli flags but as far as I could tell, we were the only ones waving Jerusalem flags depicting a strong Judah’s Lion standing in front of a shield made of Jerusalem stone surrounded by a two olive branches.
But sometimes people should wake up from dreams and instead, face reality.
I think now is a good time for this whether you are a Jew or not. Whether you are a friend to Israel or not, I think now is a good time to realize what is the real final status and ongoing future of my New Lionville, Jerusalem.
Whether you like it or not, Jerusalem is NOT a divided city. It is ONE city with very diverse neighborhoods all finding very real ways to live together everyday. And, it works, not perfectly but it works just the same. Jews, Arabs, Muslims, Christians, religious, non-religious all finding out how to live in tolerance, one for the other.
Are we segregated into our respective lives and communities? Yes, but this is our choice. No one foists this upon us. We do this out of our own fears and hopes. So what. One day Mashiach will come and the lamb will lie down with the lion. Until then, the light rail is doing a pretty decent job getting us together long enough to see that the other isn’t so terrible.
But I know this sounds very superficial, doesn’t it?
Okay, here’s the cold splash in the face:
In 1967, the Jews won my city back from Jordan. It belongs to Israel now. We won it with our blood. Too bad for the vanquished but this is life as it’s always been.
Jews bled and died for Jerusalem and no Jew who is in touch with reality to any degree (I realize there are a few who aren’t, especially in the academic world, unfortunately) is in any mood to give her back to the losers of the 1967 war or those who sympathize with the losers or those who were taken advantage of by the losers and left holding the bag.
Thank goodness for the good sense of the plurality of East Jerusalem Arabs who want no part of being party to the parties who want them to be part of any partition plan! Apart from such, they know a good thing when they have one with their own special status that no Jerusalem resident, including Jews like me, wants them to be forced to part with and become a part of something that will give them nothing but grandiose grief. Good for them for not falling for pipe dreams.
Governance is hard work and serious business. Ask any city manager or prime minister. It’s not for children or day dreamers. It’s for doers and those who have their feet firmly planted on the ground whatever dream they might envision. In short, good governance belongs to those of the world who are realistic about the problems they face and think through how to solve those problems and then do something about them.
If you ask me, Nir Birkat is doing a pretty good job. Maybe you don’t think so or maybe you don’t like your own mayor in your own hometown. That’s okay. Run for mayor and win. Then, do the job better. Otherwise, come to city council meetings and speak up. Get involved and make things better for your community. Hold people accountable. Don’t tolerate corruption and poor public service.
Unfortunately, day dreamers keep getting in the way of good governance. Unrealistic day dreamers who never had to actually govern a city or a country think they have some ordained right to tell me that the best thing for the Jews and Israel is to split up Jerusalem and give some of it away to my enemies who hate the Jews and who want to destroy Israel.
Well, perhaps some would say that they are entitled to their opinions. So be it. Yet, they are delusional and dead wrong.
Jerusalem is ONE city.
Jerusalem will be ONE city tomorrow and the next day.
It will NEVER be divided.
Wake up and smell the coffee, people.
There are far too many Jews like me who would sooner die than let Jerusalem fall into the hands of Israel’s enemies. There are far too many Israeli Jews like me who pray at The Kotel, in synogogues and our homes pleading with The G-d of Avraham, Yitzak and Ya’akov to protect us from our enemies. Guess what?
HaShem is listening to us.
HaShem is destroying the enemies of The Jews and Israel. Just look and see what’s happening all around Israel’s borders. It’s as if we have circled Jericho seven times and have woken up to see the miracle of our enemies’ undoings.
So, I have one of two messages for you that you should consider and choose which message that you will heed…
To the enemies of Israel: Be very afraid. Be very afraid of Judah’s Lion and go far, far away from Jerusalem that you might strive to find a way to live in peace somewhere else and not be summarily destroyed by The G-d of the Jews and Israel like He is doing today to all your kinsmen.
To the Jews and friends of the Jews and Israel: Take courage. The Lion of the tribe of Judah roars from heart of the Jerusalem flag. He is more than just a symbol but represents The G-d of The Jews. Realize that it isn’t a dream but reality that The G-d of the Jews and Israel is The True G-d and He is fighting for The Jews, Israel and Jerusalem. He has brought His Jews into HaEretz and Jerusalem to possess The Holy City and The Land permanently and forever. This is The Will of HaShem and He is doing His own work very well. Be of good cheer and again, I say take courage. FEAR FOR NOTHING!
The Jews are not going anywhere. I am not going anywhere. Jerusalem is my hometown and my Jewish dreams are being heard and they are being answered.
Praise HaShem forevermore, all you Jews and the friends of the Jews and Israel. May He bless you to realize your own Jewish dreams and for your prayers for the Jews and Israel to be answered. May everyone who prays for the peace of Jerusalem be blessed with health and prosperity. May Jerusalem remain eternally undivided. May her people see and KNOW that this Jewish dream has already come true.