The Shuk in Jerusalem
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Shalom.
I greet you with deep love, because of Yeshua Who planted His Love in us and continues to teach us what Love is and how to give it and receive it. I will share further down why this became so clear to me this week. And why you, the body – the miracle of His creation – encourages me so much.
May HE ALONE be glorified and blessed and may you be blessed and edified!
It is THAT TIME’ of year again. I wondered why the train, the bus, and the STREETS were SO CROWDED that I could hardly move. But it wasn’t just crowds. It was FAMILIES. Big families and small, secular and religious, a father with three kids, Grandparents with several, a young family with ten – all together. “LOOK! RUN OVER HERE! HERE IS THE BRIDGE!” a father shouted to his 3 short people, who looked very confused.
“WHERE??” they asked.
“Oh well, you missed it. Let’s go look at the driver.”
They made their way to the front of the train and I chuckled thinking that people who don’t ride the train never realize how SHORT that bridge really is.
This is IT. The two weeks before school begins when the kaytinot – or ever present year around Israeli camps and clubs and activities come to a screeching halt and there are two intense weeks of FAMILY TIME. Kaytina is not quite like anything I have seen in any other country. It is not really optional because it is what EVERYONE does. It is enriching. Maybe science, music, swimming, sport, reading – there are endless options. It is often subsidized (in other words, NO one gets left out because they can’t afford it). It is fun and safe and besides all of the parents are working.
I watched two Grandparents in their upper 70s at least, trying to maneuver the bus passes for their 4 small Grandchildren, who were SO excited to be going to the zoo with Saba and Savta (Grandpa and Grandma). Saba and Savta looked EXHAUSTED already and they were just beginning the journey. Another woman said, “Ah, Mil-oo-eem.”
I burst out laughing. I had never thought of Grandparent duty in Israel as mil-oo-eem but it surely is. Milooeem is our armed services reserve duty. It’s the older soldiers who have a regular job most of the year, but they get called once a year or during a war or crisis for a few weeks to don those uniforms and dust off their skills, to help defend the country until around the age of 50.
Yep! Grandparents are definitely milooeemniks. Some parents can take off from work for all or part of these two weeks, but not all.
When it comes to the train, I must admit to enjoying the training that goes on in religious families. They are known for having VERY large families and of course, a train ride is too expensive to take often with a full tribe, but it does make for a wonderful special outing. Now that I’m older, I see their young ones snap to attention and jump out of their seat to give it to the older person. There is a sign (only in Hebrew) on the buses that quotes from Leviticus 19:32 “You shall rise up before the gray headed, and honor the face of the old man…”
It is not just the religious but many who are just plain helpful. Last night I was squished on the train and getting a bit bruised up. I had a shopping cart with me but was wedged in by a double baby stroller alongside of a single baby carriage. A young woman got up and said, “Come here.”
But I told her that I had my cart and couldn’t get through. Immediately some young soldiers lifted my cart above everything and the sea parted again. I was sitting safely in a seat, thanking God and asking Him to give me eyes to see always these kindnesses and then to pass them on.
Eyes to see are a blessing in the physical as well as the spiritual. A blind lady was also at this busy stop when I got on. An older lady and a young girl both eyed her to see how best to help her maneuver the crowd. While we watched, her smartphone informed her the train would come in another 3 minutes. She made a phone call to a service of some kind and told them where she was and which car she was going to be in and when the train would come. “Could someone please meet me at the stop and bring me there?” she asked.
I was again touched that such things were available so that she could be free to move about. The two strangers, one young and one older on either side guided her on to the train where she immediately was given a seat, one of her angles at her side where they chatted easily. Coming from America, it always strikes me here that handicaps elicit no embarrassment at all, either from strangers nearby who may need to lend a hand, nor by the one who might need help. Life is life and this is just how it is. There is a pronounced lack of self-consciousness, which I find delightful.
It’s not only the children who are on tee-oo-leem (tours) during these last summer days. I was at the shuk this afternoon and our new soldiers were there. Young and strong and full of energy in their new uniforms. A major part of their training is to totally tour the country, north, south, east and west. They get to fully know the history, both recent and ancient, the geography, the different populations including cultures and religions and the sensitivities of each group. There must have been a hundred of these handsome, lean, tanned faces as old men and ladies stopped to bless them and young children looked on admiringly. They toured the shuk, a place that has known more than its share of attacks and is unique for its wonderful mixture of populations, Arab and Jew, working side by side and shopping side by side.
This is what a summer’s day in Jerusalem looks like as summer draws to a close. I made my way to a doctor’s appointment and saw a most unusual sight. On a main, narrow two-lane street, one lane was blocked by a line of BUSES. This was a TWO way street, mind you. Perhaps 10 or 15 city buses were simply parked and empty. Shivta’? (strike) I asked a bus driver, lounging near the bus. He smiled, “Nope. They needed buses to take the kids so we volunteered.”
What a line of buses had volunteered! They were parked in front of a religious school. I wasn’t sure exactly what he had said they were going to do, but it had a happy feeling to it. When I got to the end of the road, I saw that the police had actually volunteered the buses by pulling them over and asking them to join.
Immediately I remembered going down town to check our mail in our tiny remote village in NW Alaska when a policeman called me over and said, “We need a jury. You are number 9. Head over to City Hall.” And that was that.
This is a light letter although the things that are swirling around me are not light. I think that is how life really is. Even in times of war, the sun rises and sets and believe it or not, flowers bloom and birds fly. Daily life goes on as we stand beside graves that we did not expect and carry grief that we could not fathom.
In my own life right now, my husband left for the village that he is from in Alaska on Wednesday. Since I haven’t heard otherwise, I assume he is having a wonderful time. He was joined by our grandson and son-in-law yesterday, I believe. I am praying for them all to have a life changing exchange with The Lord and that this trip will impact them for HIS GLORY AND PURPOSES.
Our younger daughter is TRYING to sort through things somehow and be able to move out of their house within a week and into her sister’s home. They plan to return to Israel after 4 years with 3 suitcases each, period. She (who is more than 6 months pregnant) is really struggling to know what to bring. They plan to arrive here on the 7th of Sept and move in with us until they are able to get an apartment.
My husband arrives home the night of the 3rd and I am trying to baby-proof and rearrange the apartment to allow them to be at home here. I am not naturally great at these logistics anymore, and with my neighbor upstairs, I have to be very careful about making noise. These are all small things, but I personally believe that how I am steward of the time and strength and resources He provides for me, all play a role in how I stand before Him. And after 40 years plus, I am still standing on behalf of my family before His throne, as well as this nation and people. Just like you, the myriad of things He entrusts us to pray for. So I am concerned that I am found to be a faithful steward.
As I said before, this is a rather light letter, a picture that I hope you can enjoy. But our purpose is so completely to enjoy HIM and build the Body, sustaining one another through prayer and edification and building up the body and worshipping HIM, FOR HE ALONE IS LORD.
God bless you and encourage each of you.
your sister J