Your bank account just stopped working? That is called an eekool. It is a random thing that the taxing organizations and every government agency like to do, along with the banks. We understand you are not Israeli, you do not have a business in Israel, and you paid all your taxes and you don’t live in Israel. It is all part of the full Israel experience we are giving you.
They do not have to warn you, or ask permission of the bank. If that was the case, they wouldn’t have just cancelled your credit cards.
I guess you are making Aliyah. Stop complaining. You will be doing enough of that once you make Aliyah.
Now lets move into the Quarters of the Old City.
Jewish Quarter- The Rova HaYehudi
Known as The Rova, as it is Jewish tradition to hyphenate every word we can. As taken from the British Empire’s tradition to never finish a word. I learned this from my friends who studied at Uni. They told heard watching the telly.
The Rova area is great for any non-religious Jew. If you are not religious, you can get free lodging at places like the Heritage House, where they smile at you if you are not religious. You can also get all the free meals you would like. For this reason, we are going to all take off our Yarmulkes right now. We are asking the same of you, cantor Suzanne. Nobody is too religious for a free meal.
If you are religious, you are screwed. You can make friends, but even then you have to at least bring a bottle of wine for dinner. Non-religious people can just show up to dinner. It is assumed that non-religious Jews don’t know the etiquette of giving a gift to the host. If you are not Jewish, you are also in good hands. Just make sure you are not very tall and skinny, and they will accept you as non-religious Jews. Either way, you have to convert.
People are very nice to you, if you are not religious. You will notice people smiling at you and saying, ‘Shabbat Shalom,’ even on a Tuesday. They believe that this will help you become more religious, so that they don’t have to give you free dinners anymore.
That is a religious Jew. He is walking very fast. There is a concept of running to do a mitzvah (a positive commandment). He is moving fast and he might be running away from someone. Maybe he has an eekool and he has to run to make sure the government doesn’t take his house without warning or asking him.
Maybe he just doesn’t own a car.
We are in the open area of the Rova
Look, the Ramban shule. In 1267, Rabbi Moshe Ben Nachman came to Jerusalem. Known as the Ramban in acronym abbreviated form, as that allows us to shorten the word. Thus making it more Jewish and something that British people can pronounce.
He talks of the devastation caused by the crusades. There was no shule. There were men (a group of ten or more- making a minyan, as quorum is harder to understand for an English speaker) that met in a home. They were forward thinkers. They had no shule, but they did have a breakaway minyan.
Due to his commitment to Jerusalem, we call the shule the Ramban shule. When the Synagogue was closed, due to Mongolians who destroyed everything good but meat, the sephardic Jews opened up prayers down the road. This place, now known as Sephardic center, is located where Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakai, a Tanah, was said to have had a Yeshiva a very long time ago. To this day, the Sephardic Center works at times as Yeshivas, at times of hostels, and you can always see children smoking in the area. And now, the most prominent piece of architecture in the Rova square, is the Ramban shule- build to look like it did hundreds of years ago, with LED lights shining on the glass.
I have no idea if any of this is true. You can never fully depend on Wikipedia.
These stones you are walking on. People walked on these stones. Jesus walked right here. I will make this a meaningful experience for you.
The Priests walked on stones. Even before Jesus, leaders walked on these stones. Rabbis walked on these stones. As I was told by Yomi Groner, a famous Jerusalem tour guide, ‘Moshe the falafel vendor, walked right on these very stones.’ Never underestimate where you are walking in the Old City. People have walked there.
I like to bring meaning to my tours.
You will notice the Jerusalem stone ground, made out of Jerusalem stone so that when it is raining outside, you can slip and kill yourself. You will notice many people have passed away in the Holy City since the foundation of time. You will also notice the uneven stairs going down to the Kotel, which we just walked up, and you tripped on.
We are moving, we are moving. Ancient stuff. We are stopping. You can see the broken pillars. That is all part of the Cardo, the ancient Roman market center of any city. Running North to South, this was the ancient shuk. The only difference is that their storefronts were not made of tin. I feel for Achmad, the spice guy, as I do not know how he will be remembered by archaeologists.
I am sorry for getting sentimental. I just saw one of those Facebook through the years movies. It was touching. All he way back to 2011. First a picture of a blue shirt. Then a green shirt. All the changes. That inspirational music got me all chocked up. I feel the need to watch ‘Chariots of Fire,’ right now. I just think about Achmad and how he will be remembered for his za’atar.
The Armenian Quarter- No idea. Never been. People live there. Must be some churches. I can tell you that they do not speak the language I spent years trying to understand in the Gemara. Might be Talmud. I have no idea how to say it in Aramaic.
I think the Armenian Quarter is the Muslim Quarter. Which is also the Christian Quarter. There is the Muslim-Armenian-Christian Quarter and then the Jewish Quarter. That is how the Old City is split up.
We are moving. And then we will take a quick break for you to go to your hotels and shower and eat and not see me till the morning.
That is the noise of Muslim prayers coming through the sound system, and the reason why you cannot get a good night’s sleep in the Old City.
An we are finally at another gate. The Mandelbaum Gate is not a gate to the Old City. However it is the only gate of the 9 that I know, which leads to the Old City. Mandelbaum lived in the early 1900s, which is old, and that accounts for history. Why is it called the Mandelbaum Gate? He lived there. He claimed it. It is his. The same reason every street in Jerusalem has five names. People lived there.
I have no idea how we got here. I thought we were still in the Old City.
As we take a detour, you will notice Herzel is dead. This here is Shlomo’s block. Thus you will notice Shlomo Street, somewhere in the middle of King George, Keren HaYesod, Emeq Refaim, Yehezkel, Strauss, etc., which is all one street. I used etc., as it is a great way to shorten a word for a lot of other words I forgot. I feel very like a Jewish British person right now.
Mandelbaum also lived in Rochester, but he didn’t get a street.
We are lost.