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Remembering the village

Upon your arrival at the village of Shiloach, on the slopes of the Mount of Olives, you shall see the ruined homes and stones covered with weed and withered flowers, and beside them you will see homes that still bear the Mezuzah niches on their doorways – but are inhabited by squatters.

Send your eyes across to the City of David, the Kidron valley and the pool of Shiloach and you will know that the land you are standing upon is yours, Holy land, promised to you by words G-d, creator and foreseer of generations and turner of the wheels of history, His every word shall not be left unfulfilled.

Send your gaze to the north and you will see the walls of the Temple Mount. The Temple itself you will not see, as it is still destroyed by an evil hand raised upon it. “How awesome is this place, This is no other than the house of G-d, and this is the gate of Heaven!” And if you send your gaze to the east, your eyes will take in the Mount of Olives rising in front of you, the whiteness of its stones rising up to its heights, and you will stand still and look silently at those generations upon generations, feeling within you the great ones of the nation, the prophets and sages and the great tens of thousands of the House of Israel who are buried on this mountain.

And if your heart takes you to look to the west, the courses of stones of Jerusalem, the City that is joined together, will present themselves in front of you, arranged as on the stairs of the altar, old and new together, among them holy places of the nation and the government institutions, small houses tottering over, standing next to towering vast mansions.

Do not forget the south, towards the Negev and further towards Yemen, for you shall see the valleys and mountains, amongst which the heights of the new neighborhoods stand out. And if your heart desires to sense the spirit, even through eyes of flesh, and sail across the good land, then you shall feel around you the mountains of Jerusalem surrounding the City, watching over the City, on the way heading eastward to the Judean desert and the Dead Sea and on the path climbing up to Bethlehem and the hills of Hebron.

Now, close your eyes and you shall see them coming from Yemen, walking and tumbling, rising up and dragging themselves through the Arabian deserts, in shabby rags, hungry and sick The elderly carry infants on their backs, wives hold their husbands’ hands, they are not afraid of the desert, closing up on them by the rage of its sun. They have no fear of robbers.

They bury their dead along the way in the desert and despite all this – they do not turn back in their tracks, and nor do they look back, but rather continue to find their way to the port on the Red Sea, to sail the ships, paid for with the last of their money, and reach the beach of Jaffa, on the way to Jerusalem and the village of Shiloach…