Rachel Sharansky Danziger

Here to stay

She knows why she is in Jerusalem, and she knows that no threat will chase her away
Prayers and notes in the cracks of the Western Wall (photo credit: CC-BY Yarin Kirchen/Wikipedia)
Prayers and notes in the cracks of the Western Wall (photo credit: CC-BY Yarin Kirchen/Wikipedia)

Here in Jerusalem, I know where I am.

I lay in the sun today, waiting for its heat to chase away tension and exhaustion and grief (that blood, oh God, all that blood on that floor- )

And I knew. I knew where I was. Even lying down with my eyes closed.

I knew what lay to my left, beyond the grassy slopes of Independence Park and Mamilla’s elegant stores: an old stone wall, and in its shadow — alleys. And at their end, standing tall, the Western Wall.

(I know why I’m here: This is my ancient home.)

I knew what lay to my right, beyond the stately building of the Jewish Agency, that gatherer of Jews from east and west: streets named after rabbis from the middle ages, who wrote of God, and history, and love. They, too, knew where they were. And they knew where they wanted to be. “My heart is in the east,” wrote Rabbi Yehudah Halevi, dreaming of Jerusalem. “But I am in the uttermost west.”

(I know how I came to be here: Our yearning led me home.)

I knew what lay behind me: Jerusalem’s center of town with its shops and its strong, vivid, colors, and then the road that marks the seam of this city, the division between east and west.

(I know what threatens me here, but this division, this conflict, won’t chase me away.)

And I knew what lay ahead of me: My own home, and my children’s school and kindergarden, the places where I raise them to love this land, to love their fellow men.

(I know who I am: a link in a long, ancient chain.)

I lay in the sun, and it couldn’t chase my grief away, not really. Not when the blood was so fresh, and parents and spouses and siblings and children were preparing to bury their slain loved ones. Not when I thought of those five children, and the echos of slaughter they remember today.

But I know where I am, I know who I am, and I know that I’ll stay here, grieving or not.

Terror won’t change that. Wars, too, will fail.

I don’t want to live by the sword, and I don’t want to raise my children fighting. I want Jerusalem to bloom for all of us: all of its lovers, all the people who call this place home.

I want that road that lay behind me today, and that division it represents between east and west, to give way to new roads going forward: roads we’ll take together, striving hand in hand.

But if you want me to leave, if you think that blood and dread and rage will somehow make me run, know that you will fail.

I will fight if I have to, because I know who I am.

I am a Jew, and I’m home.

About the Author
Rachel is a Jerusalem-born writer and educator who's in love with her city's vibrant human scene. She writes about Judaism, history, and life in Israel for the Times of Israel and other online venues, and explores storytelling in the Hebrew bible as a teacher in Maayan, Torah in Motion, and Matan.
Related Topics
Related Posts