Yom Kippur in Jerusalem and Eizariya

The weekend that just passed was Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year. Yom Kippur is the day of atonement and traditionally, by the end of it, one can consider themselves absolved of their sins by God. Ironic really, since my flatmate seemed to see fit to behave like a super-bitch right around this time. I guess she does not take her religious obligations seriously (and it is ironic, because she claims to be religious).

Out of respect for my roommate on Yom Kippur, my friend did not come to visit me that weekend. Instead, I went back to Jerusalem and met with a close friend there. As usual, we began the evening at Asgards and ended it in a park with some of his friends before heading out to Katamon (Gonen) to get some shut-eye. 

On Thursday morning, my friends decided to hike from where we were staying to Ein Kerem. Another friend of mine and I, however, decided that lacking the energy we would stay behind and prepare a large and sumptuous dinner for the exhausted hikers when they got back. We headed to the mall to get groceries, but the supermarket was just closing – very early – because of Yom Kippur. Frustrated, we headed to the nearby Arab village of Beit Zafafa where the stores were still open. The streets were empty, however, and it was lovely to see hordes of children on bicycles riding around on the main road with not a care in the world. It reminded me a little of how much I loved running around in the middle of the road on the night before Nyepi in Bali.

We fed 10 very satisfied and exhausted Germans that evening before walking to Damascus Gate and catching a taxi to al-Eizariya, a Palestinian town in the West Bank that was once a part of Jerusalem but has now been separated by the Wall. I was told that it used to be only 5 minutes away from Jerusalem, but that since the building of the wall it now takes a half hour to get from Jerusalem proper to Eizeriya, and of course it’s always necessary to take into consideration the wait at the checkpoint. It’s never a problem to get out of Israel into the West Bank, but getting back can be quit the hassle.

We hung out at a friend of a friend’s place for the night and the following day I was taken to see the Tomb of Lazarus, where Jesus supposedly resurrected Lazarus from the dead. The tomb was really nothing more than stairs going down into a cave and a tiny, empty room. The entrance is no longer the original entrance to the tomb, as a mosque was built above it. I was then taken to the Greek Orthodox Church nearby, which was very pretty. The best part, however, was the old church nearby that was partially in use but pitch black. We wandered around for a little with torches and, had I not been with other people, I would have happily sat in the dark, old church for a long while more.

The wonderful weekend ended back in Jerusalem. I ambled through the downtown for hours before catching a sherut back to Tel Aviv, the city I’ve slowly come to resent.

On a more personal note, I’ve realized one of the reasons I love Jerusalem so much is because it’s like a bubble. When I’m in Jerusalem, I don’t feel like I’m in Israel – the people are nicer, the atmosphere is different, the buildings are old and beautiful and there are times when I feel I am in Rome or Seville or another old European city. In Jerusalem, the Israelis I come in touch with on a daily basis are softer, nicer than the people in Tel Aviv. There is something so crass about the rest of Israel, something that I am finding very difficult to deal with.

Furthermore, as if to compound the dislike I have for Tel Aviv and the fact that I have to live here, my roommate has decided to pick arguments with me on an almost daily basis and throw out comments – out of the blue – like “it’s such a shame you’re working against the State of Israel but know nothing about Israeli culture” as a response to me asking her how she celebrates Sukkot. Going home is something I dread, seeing her is something I dread, knowing that this is my life until the end of October is something I dread. On days like these, I miss Canada and my beautiful home and roommates there so much.


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