Running towards a Jerusalem of Gold

The week before Jerusalem Day.

Students from all over Israel are walking at the streets with their teachers.

The city is overcrowded, we can’t even see each other. We can only distinguish groups.

Religious groups, US youth people in short term excursions, tourists,

And “davka” (דווקא) the non-orthodox jerusalemites hides themselves at their homes.

Maybe you`re thinking about the “davka” word. What`s the meaning of it? “Davka” is a non translatable word, some people would explain it by saing that it means “actually” or “precisely”, but I understood that it also can means “the opposite” in a funny way, like something that we wouldn`t expect but it happens. Sorry, maybe I wasn`t clear, but I hope that until the end of the text you`ll understand it.

We’re feeling the firsts days of heat and a blowing sun is up there, but “davka” this week I’ve felt a cold and gray atmosphere above the city. People are preparing themselves for the next sunday, and avoiding any kind of discussion. After all, everybody knows that ain`t no one who have the same opinion as the other. The world envisioned by Martin Buber where “I and Thou” are part of the same relation and if we don`t see ourself inside the other we can’t create a full existence, didn`t prospered.

The basic word I-Thou can only be spoken with one’s whole being. – I and Thou, Martin Buber

“Davka” in this strange city I discovered, through some friends, the group of Runners Without Borders. A group of jewish and arab runners that united themselves to run together, and share their experience in a happy and comprehensive environment. And so, last Thursday I went run with them, and participated in the third race that they organized. I went with two friends, but when we got there, we understood that we weren`t alone. It seemed like the one hundred people that were there belonged to the same family. We were received with smiles and a sympathy that is not usual in Jerusalem. We gave them our backpacks, in order to run, and they didn`t checked or anything, they just putted them with all the other backpacks, and that`s it. This is a big sign of trust,in a city that if you forget your backpack at the street, people will scream with you and call the police, even before check it, simply because it`s dangerous. It happened to me twice.

The race was near the Malha train station, very very far from the city center. We asked ourselves, why so far? It semmed to us that there is a need to hide in order to create a environment of coexistence. I was with a political t-shirt, calling for peace and inclusion, and at the same moment that we went out from the race  I felt that I had to change it. How would I walk at the streets of Jerusalem with that t-shirt?

Jerusalem is a political city in each corner of it`s streets, but “davka” here, there is a mythos that we can`t scream our political thoughts in a public space. Jerusalem carry the image of a religious city, but “davka” here, there is a taboo about the non-orthodox judaism. Every event of non-orthodox judaism happens in a closed and small place. Except from some courageous woman that every month goes to the Kotel, strive for their religious believes.

At a Jerusalem of Gold, “davka” sometimes I fell like I live in a different Jerusalem, a Jerusalem of Iron. As Meir Ariel wrote:

Jerusalem of iron,
of lead, of darkness,
haven’t we set your wall free?

For me, after the great experience with Runners Without Borders, it seems like we haven`t reached the Jerusalem of Gold, but “davka” they showed to me that we can run towards it.

About the Author
Rodrigo came to Israel to study Jewish Education after being a highschol teacher of Jewish Studies for five years in Brazil.
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