Awoke to another beautiful day from my patio facing east. But, it promised to be a hot one.
Once a week, Yitzchak’s wife, Aviva, works at a library for elderly English speaking Jews and I had promised her I would volunteer my help when I could. So, today was the day.
Met Aviva at the Central Bus Station at 7:30AM. Here are some pictures of the Bus Station. It’s like a giant mall, with just about every kind of shop. Blake, here’s where all the Crocks have gone. Aviva wanted a cup of coffee before we got on the next bus headed toward the library. She asked what kind of coffee I wanted. Simple question? Not in Israel! You can get half coffee/half milk, or instant coffee (simply called “Nescafe”), or Turkish coffee. I had visions of Starbucks and told Aviva I wanted, “Some strong coffee. I’ll add the cream and sugar.” Aviva ordered (in Hebrew) each of our coffees. Bad idea. She ended up with some kind of latte and I ended up with Turkish coffee (which is like used motor oil in a cup). Just couldn’t drink it. This time, I ordered for myself. I remembered a phrase from my time here last year: “filtered coffee” which is a weak version of coffee brewed from a tea bag. After adding a couple of teaspoons of my Turkish coffee, plus lots of milk and sugar, it was OK.
If Aviva had not met me downtown I would never have found the library. Like so many other places here, it was tucked in behind other buildings, down an alley, and up some stairs. No A/C in these ancient buildings. Not long after we arrived, a dozen elderly women came in and began doing whatever women do in a library: putting together a newsletter mail-out, taking calls from shut-ins for books and books on tape, etc. Evidently there are lots of jobs these ladies never have time to get done, so I was assigned one of them: I spent three hours putting several hundred books on tape in numerical order. The ladies were thrilled. I was happy to help, but decided to leave around 11:30.
Jerusalem has a population of around 600,000, but they are stacked one upon another, so the city isn’t really all that big. Everywhere, signs point to things like “City Center” or “Old City”. It was a very hot day, but I just wanted to walk as much of the City as I could.
I have been trying to connect with an old friend, an Orthodox Jewish Cohen (or, priest) whom I had known during my days in Atlanta. Ben had moved to Jerusalem about 15 years ago. His wife had died a little while ago and I wanted to see my old friend. I tried several times to reach him by phone, but we couldn’t connect.
I left the library on my walk. I took a turn on the next street and suddenly I realized that I was familiar with the street I was walking down. It was the street where Ben lived. I had been there a few years ago and remembered what his home looked like. So, as I stood in front of his house, I called his phone number, but could only leave a message.
I decided to head toward the center of the city where I could eventually catch the bus home. Ben Yehuda is the main pedestrian shopping street downtown. On the way I walked through parks and wealthy neighborhoods. I passed by the home of the president of Israel. My old map wasn’t helping me much. I actually had to ask several times which direction to head (hey…no sarcastic remarks from you males!). Also passed the Great Synagogue of Jerusalem. I am told it was designed to look like the Temple of Solomon.
By the time I reached Ben Yehuda Street the heat had really gotten to me and I was getting dehydrated. I stopped at a juice stand and bought a large cup of hand squeezed, fresh pomegranate juice. Bad idea. Too expensive. I wish I could say it was delicious, but at least it was cold.
Bought a decent City map. Also too expensive, but I think it will be worth the cost. Decided to eat at one of Jerusalem’s finest restaurants. You may ask, “Which restaurant was that?”. Here is a picture. Bad idea #3.
I really wanted to visit the Old City, but just happened to wander past Max Richardson’s photo studio. His wife (remember Indiana Jones’ daughter?) was standing outside the studio and invited me in. We talked about an hour. By now I was pretty close to one of my favorite places: the Shook and decided to walk the few blocks and wander through this outdoor fresh market.
On the way to the Shook, received a call from Ben Rabinowitz, my Cohen friend. He wants to meet for lunch tomorrow.
Entered the Shook (this aisle is only one of dozens in the outdoor market downtown). I love this place with all its hustle and bustle and the smells and colors. Want some nuts, figs and raisins? Spices? How about some fish? Fresh fruits and vegetables? Freshly baked bread? Home-made chocolate? I can’t ever go here without buying some dried figs or dates. So I did.
Gave up on visiting the Old City. Maybe tomorrow after lunch with Ben. Caught the bus and headed home.