walking along the train tracks in Jerusalem

We went for a walk along the tracks from the Old Train Station leading to Malcha Mall in Jerusalem. It’s not the new tracks, but the repurposed old ones. Here’s an interesting article about how it started, with the vision of 2 men, but now embraced by the whole nation–and tourists alike!

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Actually, we means the baby in the stroller with me doing the pushing. The others were on bike (the kids) or running (the men). I lucked out, especially since our granddaughter’s bike broke after going most of the way to Beit Safafa…

And I also had time to read the signs along the way, and take some photos, like this one.

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Below, I bring the source, adding the first two verses of the chapter. Interestingly, this is the Haftarah, the section of the prophets traditionally read the week after Tisha B’Av, what we read just 2 weeks ago after the fighting had stopped.

Isaiah Chapter 40 יְשַׁעְיָהוּ

א  נַחֲמוּ נַחֲמוּ, עַמִּי–יֹאמַר, אֱלֹהֵיכֶם. 1 Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God.
ב  דַּבְּרוּ עַל-לֵב יְרוּשָׁלִַם, וְקִרְאוּ אֵלֶיהָ–כִּי מָלְאָה צְבָאָהּ, כִּי נִרְצָה עֲו‍ֹנָהּ:  כִּי לָקְחָה מִיַּד יְהוָה, כִּפְלַיִם בְּכָל-חַטֹּאתֶיהָ.  {ס} 2 Bid Jerusalem take heart, and proclaim unto her, that her time of service is accomplished, that her guilt is paid off; that she hath received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins. {S}
ג  קוֹל קוֹרֵא–בַּמִּדְבָּר, פַּנּוּ דֶּרֶךְ יְהוָה; יַשְּׁרוּ, בָּעֲרָבָה, מְסִלָּה, לֵאלֹהֵינוּ. 3 Hark! one calleth: ‘Clear ye in the wilderness the way of the LORD, make plain in the desert a highway for our God.
ד  כָּל-גֶּיא, יִנָּשֵׂא, וְכָל-הַר וְגִבְעָה, יִשְׁפָּלוּ; וְהָיָה הֶעָקֹב לְמִישׁוֹר, וְהָרְכָסִים לְבִקְעָה. 4 Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the rugged shall be made level, and the rough places a plain;

There were many other of these posts with a variety of quotes, ranging from the original dedication of the first trains in Jerusalem 1892, to quotes from Herzl, Ben Gurion, and such. But I also loved this one below.

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Here’s my translation:

Windows open wide.

Until the firmament a hush

Bridges straight and high

Between yesterday and tomorrow…

By Sivan Zarka

It’s much more beautiful in the original Hebrew. I thought this might be a famous poet who I was not familiar with, but I saw the dates of her life engraved on the stone and I realize she is a girl who was killed back in 1997. When you read about what it was like in Israel then, perhaps today’s actions in Gaza are more understandable, to not return to that horrible situation.

A week ago, four Israeli soldiers were burned to death during a clash with Amal forces in South Lebanon. So far this year, 30 Israeli soldiers have been killed in Lebanon, not including 73 who perished in a helicopter crash near the border in February. The recent casualties have prompted intensified demands from some Israelis for troops to withdraw from Lebanon.

Adding to Israel’s grief and horror, Hezbollah commanders displayed to reporters in Lebanon mangled body parts of Israeli soldiers, which they offered to swap for Arab prisoners held by Israel. One guerrilla held up part of a human head for photographers.

“We have parts of bodies, including four legs and half a head . . . which we will make use of in the framework of future swaps,” Hezbollah secretary general Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah boasted to reporters at a news conference in Beirut.

Under Jewish religious law, it is essential that a complete body be recovered in order to give the deceased a proper burial. Netanyahu said last night on Israeli television that he would consider such a trade. “We see every soldier . . . as something precious, as part of our flesh that we have to provide a burial for in Israel,” Netanyahu said.

In Israel, where suicide bombings have become numbingly familiar, the deaths in Lebanon came as an enormous shock, in part because they undermined confidence in what is perhaps Israel’s most important and trusted institution, the army.

Even those mourners grieving at the funerals of a 14-year-old girl killed at Ben Yehuda seemed as preoccupied with Lebanon as with the tragedy at home.

“It’s my second funeral in a week. Last Friday, it was one of the soldiers killed in the fire in Lebanon; today, this beautiful, smart girl killed right here at home,” Fanny Cohen, 42, a Jerusalem accountant, said at the Givat Shaul cemetery in Jerusalem.

“I have a son in the army. He was in Lebanon, and now he’s in Hebron. I feel like our government needs to do something soon. I don’t know what exactly, maybe to build a wall between ourselves and the Arabs so that they are there and we can be here,” Cohen said.

Standing next to her, a family friend, Natali Salem, 18, was worrying about her own service in the army, scheduled to begin early next year. “So many people are dying. Now, these guys. In five months, it will be my friends, too, who are dying,” Salem said.

The funeral was for Sivan Zarka, who was killed along with two classmates from a high school in Jerusalem’s upper-class Rehavija neighborhood as they were out shopping on the Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall. Most of the school attended – hundreds of blue-jeaned teenagers who walked towards the grave in an speechless procession.

“When I was their age, I didn’t go to funerals. Now look what’s happening,” said Joseph Trevis, the father of a Rehavija student. Trevis, a doctor at Jerusalem’s Sha’are Zedek hospital, said his experience treating terrorism victims at the hospital had all but killed his hopes that it was possible to strike a peace deal with the Palestinians.

“We have fought for Israel the past 100 years. Maybe we will have to fight the next hundred, too,” he said.

In the meantime, we will continue to be strong and find love.

They are not contradictions.

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