Wednesday, October 19, 2011

10/19/11: My Heart Will Always Pine For You, O' Jerusalem

A View Of East Jerusalem 

It is so hard for me to believe that my month long whirlwind adventure in East Jerusalem is coming to an end. Tonight, as I spend my last night in this enchanting city, I can't help but wonder where the time has gone. So much has happened, and I have done so many amazing things, yet it truly feels like I only just arrived. I tried to think of what I would miss the most about living here and it was utterly impossible to narrow it down to just one thing. In a city this precious and amazing there is just too much to miss. 

I will miss the ringing out of the Muslim call to prayer desperately. It's beautiful music has been a constant comfort to me these past 4 weeks and not hearing it sounded every few hours will be a sad change. Though I am not of the Islamic faith I can appreciate the beauty in the prayers to a God we (Jews and Muslims) both believe in. It is simply one of the most beautiful sounds in the world, in one of the most beautiful languages in the world, and I will miss it terribly. Luckily if I get too lonely for it, Jaffa is just a 30 minute bus ride away :-) 

I will miss the culture here. Though I am in a modern city, at the same time, I am in an ancient city bringing together people of all beliefs and faiths. I will particularly miss the cultural feel of the Eastern block of the city, and the hospitality I have been shown here by the residents. From being invited in for coffee whenever I am walking around on the streets, to being given free pastries whenever I enter my favorite bakery, to being only 2 blocks away from the walls of the Old City, I will miss it all! I have fallen in love with life in East Jerusalem and it will be extremely hard to part with it (though I must say I will be glad to be back in a place where I don't have to sit on a tree stump to shower!) 

I will miss the feel of living in a typical "Middle Eastern" country. Tel Aviv is a fantastically modern city and sometimes it feels no different than being in New York or San Francisco (except for the fact that everyone speaks Hebrew). There is no escaping the Middle East when you are in Jerusalem, however, and I will miss that "living in a foreign country" feel; a feeling I just don't get when I am in Tel Aviv. I love Tel Aviv, don't get me wrong, but my heart will always beat exclusively for Jerusalem! 

I will miss being able to speak Arabic with people whenever I want! No matter where I go in East Jerusalem or the Old City, there are so many people willing and excited to help me with this language. Though I haven't started the continuation of my formal studies of Arabic, I have brushed up a great deal, and even learned a little extra in the month I have been here. Unless I go into Jaffa every day I will not get this amazing continuous exposure to the language, and I will miss that profoundly. It will also be quite a change not hearing Arabic yelled outside of my window every night! 

I will miss the West Bank immensely. I can't believe it has taken me this long to get there, despite my many trips to Israel, but now that I have been, I know my relationship with the area will only continue to grow. I have never felt more welcomed or more appreciated for merely visiting than I did in Ramallah, Al-Walajeh, and Bethlehem. Having exposure to the West Bank only further fueled the excitement I have at the fact that I will soon be studying this region with a focus on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and two state solution. Having established an emotional connection to the West Bank will only help me approach this conflict from an area of love and admiration for both sides; a connection to Israel through my Judaism, culture, and heritage, and a connection to Palestine through my passion, love for a people, and love for a language.


The Busy Streets Of Ramallah 

I will miss the PIJ office and staff deeply. I have had such an amazing month working at the journal and am so happy that I will be able to continue to contribute to their amazing cause during my many years here in the Middle East. The passion of everyone working at PIJ is astounding, the incredibly influential people I have met in my short time here is nothing short of amazing, and the wealth of information I have been exposed to in terms of the conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis is invaluable. This internship was meant to be and I'm so excited to continue my work with them throughout the years that I am here. 

I ready myself for sleep tonight with both a heavy and full heart. A heavy heart because I will miss this place so much, and a full heart because I have experienced so much, met so many amazing people, have had so many fantastic adventures, and have learned a great deal in the process. I can say with passionate certainty that I have taken advantage of each day here, and I thank God that he has given me this amazing chapter in the book of my life abroad. This was yet another amazing stepping stone in my life, and I am swelled with happiness just thinking about everything that has gone on in this past month. Thank goodness Jerusalem is only a 45 minute bus ride away making it so easy to come back any time I am missing it too much! 

But alas, like everything, this chapter has run it's course and now must come to an end. A new, exciting chapter is about to begin in the form of my studies, and I can't wait to expand my knowledge, start my research, and work towards truly making a difference in the region. I've always been known to shake things up a bit and this experience will be no different! I'm ready to see what life has in store for me, and the knowledge that I will gain here can only help me on my path to doing amazing things (hopefully :-D) 

Tisba7 3ala kheir ya chaverim! Ma Salame w Lilah Tov <3,
Jordana Simone

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