Piove sui works in regress.

European, italiano, piemontèis. Falso e cortese. Geriatric millennial. Bezbožný. Samotář. 100% spoleh!

Seven views of Jerusalem /5 ·


After a tiring day in the West Bank, we had it easy and we took a taxi to West Jerusalem to visit the Israel Museum, close to the Knesset.
The museum is inside a modernist building made of concrete and glass, lying within a botanical garden, and was organised chronologically from the Stone Age, through the Phoenician and Greek and Roman dominations, to the current era. A temporary exhibition was dedicated to Herod the Great [1]. Artifacts came from archaeological sites across the Levant, rather than from Eretz Yisrael only, and from the Diaspora, but went beyond a mere collection of Jewish-culture antiquities. Yet what struck me the most was a hall, where the interior of a synagogue was moved and reconstructed: it was the synagogue from Vittorio Veneto, Italy; for obvious reasons, in its original location this synagogue had become tragically useless.

A young woman observes a mosaic depicting a naval scene with Greek inscriptions.

In the late afternoon I parted ways from my companions, to soak up the atmosphere of the Old City, alone, in the golden hour. I strolled again near the Jaffa Gate, through the Armenian Quarter, along and inside the stone walls built by Suleiman the Magnificent. Out of the Zion Gate, I was walking eastwards, where the road turns left and downhill towards the Jewish Quarter: that is where I met God.
There was no one else around: other tourists were in their hotel rooms dressing up for dinner, merchants had closed their shops, Jews were home celebrating the end of their sacred day. I was approached by this man in his 40s, wearing casual clothes, heading in the same direction. We exchanged a few friendly words in English. I cannot remember our conversation, but I can remember distinctly how it ended: he told me that he came from the Czech Republic; I asked him if he was Czech; he shook his head, he said “No”, and he walked away. Befuddled, I looked up at the Mount of Olives; I looked back at him, but he had vanished.
Was he God? Was he Massi from the future? Was he a Shin Bet agent checking on me? I will never know.

The Mount of Olives at twilight as seen from the vicinity of the Zion Gate.

The sun finally set. Children in white shirts were allowed to play football at a yeshiva. I met again my companions at an Armenian restaurant overstuffed with decorations and showing the tallest samovar ever. At night the streets of the Old City were roamed by lean Hasidic youth growing pe’ot, and the stones shone magically black and gold.

The tallest samovar ever and a quite short samotář.

[To be continued…]

  1. Should I buy today the exhibition’s catalogue that I didn’t buy then?