Tomorrow Jeff, David, and Danielle leave Jerusalem to return home. I'm looking forward to hearing all about their trip. I last saw Jerusalem at the age of ten, enroute to the States. Most of all I remember the Dome of the Rock shining golden in the sun and a stream of people from many countries passing through that holy place, heads covered in respect. I saw (and maybe touched?) the rock where Isaac might have been sacrificed, if God hadn't provided a ram at the last minute. And I walked Jerusalem's narrow streets with my parents and brother and sisters, breathing in the air of a place that I'd heard about since toddlerhood.
Here's a fragment from a poem about Jerusalem by Yehuda Amichai. He's a beloved poet in Israel and throughout the world, for good reason.
And there are days here when everything is sails and more sails,
even though there's no sea in Jerusalem, not even a river.
Everything is sails: the flags, the prayer shawls, the black coats,
the monks' robes, the kaftans and kaffiyehs,
young women's dresses and headdresses,
Torah mantles and prayer rugs, feelings that swell in the wind
and hopes that set them sailing in other directions.
Even my father's hands, spread out in blessing,
my mother's broad face and Ruth's faraway death
are sails, all of them sails in the splendid regatta
on the two seas of Jerusalem:
the sea of memory and the sea of forgetting.