There is no way to describe being here for the last two weeks. I keep having to shake my head, waking myself up to the fact that I am not on holiday, that I am in Jerusalem forever. Jerusalem is now my home.

The highlight so far has been meeting a part of the anglo community. Our good friends organised a seudah shlishit, third Shabbat meal at a park, where immigrants like us from England, Australia, America and of course South Africa congregated over fresh watermelon, macaroni and cheese, and lots of salads on picnic mats (that are very popular here especially around Yom Haatzmaut I’m told). There were too many faces and names to remember properly, but everyone was really lovely and welcoming. It’s a wonderful community here (who bring meals and cakes upon cakes to complete strangers)  which means alot, being new and knowing practically nobody here.

I woke up this morning understanding why the Torah repeats over 36 times the importance of welcoming the stranger in our midst. There is nothing as alienating as coming to a new place, without the language and context. It’s like walking around without shoes on ice. Nobody knows who you are, nobody necessarily cares about who you are either. Nobody is waiting for you. And the less expectations you have from those around you the better.

Of course I knew all this before I came. Two weeks in it’s sunk in, not only am I a stranger, but my children are too, and they also have to deal with the trauma of being the ‘new’ kid on the block. As an adult you have the skills to create your own life. As a kid you’re still developing those skills. So my heart bleeds tears as one of my children is side lined by one of his ‘new’ friends randomly.

It’s falling down to earth hard with socially scraped knees. We’ve come with good intentions and yet there are hard days. Hard moments, where I need to swallow and say ‘C’est La Vie’, life inevitably has its ups and downs. The moment where my Hebrew is so bad, the woman at the restaurant says, ‘Just speak English, okay.’ Of shouting at the children not to step on the freshly laundered pile of clothes. Of going to bed with my feet aching from walking, washing up, cleaning, general wear and tear of a day spent with four busy boys on holiday until they start camp.

Then there’s the surreal good moments, of simply walking and freely breathing in the purple bougainvillaea that grows wild on the streets of Katamon. Spontaneously going to Tel Aviv and staying over night to join in the White Night festival, where there are bands and orchestras playing throughout the city streets. Sitting with the children and close friends in Old Jaffa, under the soft lantern light listening to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody dancing off the sandstone walls of the ancient Biblical port. Walking through streets that don’t sleep, cafes that don’t close, life that doesn’t end, but clings tenaciously to every moment in search of, if not a great song on the streets of Tel Aviv, then a wonderful story on the streets of Jerusalem.

I only have my story here so far, of trying to find my feet, my street, my song. I’ll start with going to yoga tomorrow at the railway station at 7am.

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