Author of "Embracing Auschwitz" and "Mensch•Marks: Life Lessons of a Human Rabbi - Wisdom for Untethered Times." Winner of the Rockower Award, the highest honor in Jewish journalism and 2019 Religion News Association Award for Excellence in Commentary. Musings of a rabbi, journalist, father, husband, poodle-owner, Red Sox fan and self-proclaimed mensch, taken from essays, columns, sermons and thin air. Writes regularly in the New York Jewish Week and Times of Israel.
Monday, December 25, 2017
Christmas in Jerusalem
Shalom from Jerusalem!
Many of you know that I am here for the bar mitzvah of Andrew Jaffe-Berkowitz, which happened today (and he was amazing, of course)!
But I wanted to share with you a bit of the spirit of this season here, in photographs. I've spent much time in the Old City over the past couple of days, and while the weather has cooled and it rained today, the city has glowed as only Jerusalem can, not through the legendary golden walls so much as in the faces of the faithful. Hanukkah is over and Christmas is completely uncommercialized here, so all that's left is pure and uplifting. Not a sale in sight. Last night I attended an interfaith celebration at the YMCA, featuring the incomparable and famous Jerusalem Youth Chorus, consisting of Jews, Palestinians, an incredibly diverse group (including some with disabilities) - and they make beautiful music together. I've linked the entire concert here - it was all good, but the kids are the best, and their songs can be found about halfway in. You've got to hear their version of "Home," at about 1 hour and 30 minutes in. When they sing,
Just know you're not alone 'Cause I'm going to make this place your home:
It almost makes you believe that they will be able to pull it off, where so many of their elders have failed.
With everything swirling around us, everywhere else in the world, and some unrest also very close to here, Jerusalem this weekend was somehow at the eye of the hurricane, incomprehensibly peaceful and lovely.
Best wishes for peaceful holidays.
Rabbi Joshua Hammerman
The bar mitzvah boy himself, holding his tutor Judy Aronin's Torah pointer ...
and check out the view!
There were some "Walk ins" at the luncheon
Inside Jaffa Gate
In rainy season, the clouds seem almost to touch the ground
School outing in the Jewish Quarter
This teacher seems to be having one of those days!
Nearly bought that middle poster in the Cardo
"One of these things is not like the others"
but so lovely to see prayer shawls living in perfect harmony
This Nigerian pilgrim and I connected in a perfectly 21st century way.
Not exactly "I-Thou," but this moment of holy synchronicity was followed by big smiles from both photographers - and then we each walked away. Who knows in which Nigerian version of a Shabbat-O-Gram my camera-covered face will wind up!
Ran into this procession somewhere around the 8th station
In the shuk
The view from the rooftop of the Austrian Hospice in the Muslim Quarter, a true oasis in the Old City
It's a spectacular view, where religions and satellite dishes commingle like lions and lambs
From the same rooftop
Looking toward the Christian Quarter and the Church of the Redeemer
A multi-cultural photo exhibit, "Faces of Prayer," in the Austrian Hospice
"Prayer is like an oasis of calm inside me - like a tree giving me shade."
In less than a single square mile within its walls, the world passes by
...at the YMCA...
From the Christmas Eve Concert, the Jerusalem Youth Chorus and others