Just Another Day in Jerusalem

February in Jerusalem: The sun is shining. Mahane Yehuda, the local outdoor market, is brimming with different colors and flavors: Overly ripe papayas sit next to seasonal strawberries and artichokes; the scent of coffee mingles with the smell of dried fish. I want to take off my sweater, but decide that the shirt I’m wearing underneath is not appropriate for public, so instead, I shvitz silently in my black jacket.

As I buy some carrots for dinner, I am struck with the immense realization that at night, when I recited the verse in the Grace After Meal that reads, “And you shall eat and you shall be satisfied and you shall bless God for the good land He has bestowed upon you”, I will indeed be blessing God for the gift of having eaten produce grown in the good land of Israel.

As I look at a woman in a hijab and a Franciscan priest, I feel happy, that this city that is holy to me is also special to so many different types of people. I look forward to the day when we will all hold hands and pray together on the Mountain of God, fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy, “For My house will be called a house for all the nations.”

As I spot the knaffe stand next to the hipster coffee hang-out, I look forward to one day telling my hypothetical future kids about the various types of foods, and how they represent different cultures and people, all of whom are uniquely endowed with the image of the Creator. I am extremely conscious that having children would be a fulfillment of Zecharia’s prophecy that children will one day laugh and play in the streets of Jerusalem.

On most days I am adamant that I do not believe that the State of Israel is the beginning of the Messianic redemption. I proclaim loudly that the only religious significance of the State of Israel is that sovereignty grants us the freedom we need in order to create a Godly society — a society of kindness and justice. But there are days when I am reminded that, no matter what religious meaning I wish to ascribe — or to not ascribe — to the State of Israel, I am truly living in miraculous times.

And that, as we say at the Passover Seder, is enough — dayenu.

About the Author
Shayna Abramson, a part-Brazilian native Manhattanite, studied History and Jewish Studies at Johns Hopkins University before moving to Jerusalem. She has also spent some time studying Torah at the Drisha Institute in Manhattan, and has a passion for soccer and poetry. She is currently pursuing an M.A. in Political Science from Hebrew University, and is a rabbinic fellow at Beit Midrash Har'el.
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