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Reflections from Jerusalem
Last uploaded : Saturday 5th Feb 2005 at 02:20
Contributed by : Sheila Raviv


This is an Awards for All feature.
A View from Jerusalem

By Sheila Raviv

4th February, 2005

It's raining, indeed it is now pouring down with real wintry force and the even better news is that it is raining in the Golan, with snow forecast. Those of you who live anywhere but the Sahara desert must think I am crazy, but rain is a blessed thing, especially here in Israel. The Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) will fill up, the desert will bloom and the earth will be cleansed. I always loved rain, somewhat
fortuitous for one who grew up in Wales, but here the sensation is different, here we anticipate the rebirth of the land in every drop.

Jerusalemites love a good market. I often talk about Mahane Yehuda and when I have the energy for the hundreds of steps, I go to the Old City
market, but twice a week Shouk Ramle comes to town. Strange name really since the market is in Jerusalem not Ramle but that is what it is called. The Monday morning shouk is very different to the Wednesday morning one. Monday morning is mostly open-air and the costermongers
sell everything from curtains to cookies, toys, pots, paper plates, clothes, shoes and make up; the clothes set out on circular rails which swing in all directions as the buyers search out the best bargains. So it is on Wednesday too, but on Wednesday it is held indoors and I get to go to my favourite store of all, the dry goods

Long deep wooden counters dissected into twelve sections, in each section a surprise awaits. Twelve kinds of rice, from black and shiny
to round and sticky, loose couscous, pulses, cereals, snacks and teas, coffee beans and a myriad of spices of every colour and flavour. The
walls display the exotic products from all over the world the colours calling you to buy. The store sparkles with cleanliness and the owner
takes great care that we each know the uses for our purchases. A haven of epicurean magic I shop, intoxicated by the heady aromas.

Talking of heady aromas, the almond trees, the "shkediot", are in blossom. Watching folk walk through the Valley of the Cross going from
tree to tree, lifting a branch to smell the heady scent, then bending to inspect the wild cyclamen, I feel so privileged. All around
Jerusalem the roadsides are filled with blossom, good omen of a burgeoning almond crop in the summer. The olive trees beside them drop their now sticky black crop onto the ground their pips trodden into the earth to bring forth new trees. Yes Jerusalem is beautiful at this time of year, indeed at any time of year.

The sense of trepidation in Jerusalem is waning, the sense of hope and revival is strong. People walk with a lighter step, despite the obvious political decisions we may be forced to take. The economy, is starting to blossom alongside the almond trees, due to the Financial plans of Mr Netanyahu and in no small way to the globe-trotting efforts of Minster of Trade and Industry/ Labour, Ehud Olmert. Mr Olmert flies all over the world to bring in new investment and just met with a British entrepreneur and expert on job-finding who is coming to Israel to help ease our unemployment situation. Actually, we could solve it in a simpler manner?. When Mr Olmert was Mayor of Jerusalem he encouraged tourism and many new hotels were built, then
the Intifada fell upon us and any of you stopped coming. Thousands lost their jobs. To ease the unemployment in Jerusalem, just come back!! Come back and fill the hotels and the streets and the tourist sites never forgetting to write your prayer note and press it to the boulders which make up the Kotel, the Wailing Wall.

Last evening Zvi and I entertained special friends in our home. Joy and Brian Wolfe from the UK. Joy is a journalist and tireless purveyor
of news from Israel. She speaks regularly and writes constantly, and is a true Zionist, as is Brian. The second couple, Kathleen and Earl
Cox, founded and run Front Page Jerusalem News, an organisation with which I am very proud to be associated. Each morning, by about seven thirty, you will find Earl and Kathleen, both devout Christians from the United States, beside the Kotel, praying, praying for the peace of this country and this nation and identifying with the Jews who pray there with them. I expressed concern when I first heard of their desire, concern that they would find antagonism to their efforts, but the religious community has accepted their obvious sincerity and each morning they are invited to join the ceremonies and social gatherings with warmth and acceptance. How fitting for this most diverse of

So I must go and finish my cooking for the Shabbat meal. This week we go to the winter menu, hot vegetable soup, tsimmes (a carrot
confiture), fish, potatoes, salad (no Israeli meal is complete without a huge dish of finely chopped salad dressed with fresh lemon juice and
olive oil) finishing with a fruit crumble. In the meantime, I wish you and yours a healthy and fulfilling Shabbat. I often wonder, when I express my prayers and dreams, do I stimulate you to prayers and dreams and if so, what they are?

With much love from Jerusalem, home.

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