I love Jerusalem. I fell in love with Jerusalem when I lived there as a rabbinical student. I fell in love with Loren Filson Lapidus in Jerusalem that same year. Like many people that have lived in Jerusalem, I’ve lived through bus bombings and other forms of terrorism and violence. And like everyone who has lived in Jerusalem, I’ve seen and tasted “heavenly” Jerusalem and “earthly” Jerusalem. I’ve walked the streets of Jerusalem at all hours of the day, exploring alleyways and ancient corridors, and nurtured my personal relationship to Jerusalem for the last 13 years.
A few years ago The Davis Academy 8th grade happened to be in Jerusalem on Yom Yerushalayim. We had trouble getting back to our hotel in the city center because tens of thousands of young Israelis had flooded the city in honor of the day that Israel captured the Old City during the 1967 War. The city was pulsing with energy. Many of the youth had come to participate in marches. Some of those marches proceeded through the Damascus Gate and the Arab Quarter of the Old City. Those that did were purposefully inflammatory in nature. That night, as we prepared to let our kids explore Ben Yehuda Street we took a moment to explain to them that Ben Yehuda Street would be even crazier than usual due to the Yom Yerushalayim crowd. We had a pleasant evening wandering the tourist stores, but I couldn’t help but wonder why Yom Yerushalayim had to be a day when at least several thousand of the celebrants felt the need to parade through the Arab Quarter with no purpose other than to arouse the resentment of the local residents there.
This year I noticed something on the streets of Jerusalem– hearts. Everywhere I looked there were hearts. I think there were more hearts spray painted across the city than there were Israeli flags. I took this as a positive sign, that love is slowly spreading and taking hold in the City of Gold.