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Jerusalem

Jerusalem

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Imagine, reader, a room scattered with starlight, a cloak of heavenly bodies thrown over the Sukkah of the universe, and a string of worlds knotted together by the gentle hands of patient souls. Imagine a simple chair standing in the corner, rocking slightly with spiritual intensity so deep that it can be no more physicalized than the sudden ceasing of shockeling when a Jew stands to pray.

And now imagine, reader, that there is an indistinct figure, a silhouette shining, whose features are undetermined and whose face you cannot see - you're too far away. In fact, you're staring through a telescope, your eye pressed against the frosted glass eyepiece as you try to discern the image within these ink spots, as you probe the prose with the magnifying lens only to realize that first you must step back to step inside. But your reading has already begun, the process has already started. So continue, please continue.

As you attempt to zoom in, your pupils dilate in surprise - the figure is holding an intricate, magnificent quilt. This creative creation seems to radiate, and you're forced to blink when you try to get a better look at the finely crafted details, the seemingly endless array of colors. Saffron yellow, cerulean, turquoise, lime green - colors you never thought of naming, colors you named but never thought of. The materials are rich in tone, the concoctions of hues melded together like precious metals. You see bold, bright colors and dulled, darker ones on the edges, fading in and out like a nostalgic television which subsists only on the stale memories of old men conversing in their nursing homes.

And now imagine that your telescope suddenly begins shaking in your gloved hand, and all at once you've magnified the scene, and you see the tiny fibers in the lap of the Creator, the nearly invisible strings of interwoven thread that seem to glitter and reflect. And suddenly you realize that you're an atom of a fiber, and you start spinning, rushing, zooming and…now you're on the flip side, reader of mine.

So you start making your way down the flashing reflections of fibers, crossing the fields of unknotted silk, past the hills of flowered gingham is… Yerushalayim (Jerusalem).

Naturally, the name means nothing when spelled in English - it is but a random combination of Anglicized letters with harsh lines and mispronounced meaning.

But in Hebrew, the word becomes suddenly fluid. The letters take shape, dancing with each other, grasping hands and twirling in ecstatic connection as the name of our beloved city is transferred from the weathered paper of a scroll to the lips of those daughters of Jerusalem who tied the string of worlds, learning how to speak Lashon Hakodesh (Ancient Hebrew).

A flow of hope is heard throughout the massive expanse of the quilt, and brings with it a catapulting force of a river of memories; a single utterance that has stayed in the hearts of the Jewish people since the beginning of all exiles, a unique order of sounds that have become deeply engrained within Judaism.

You begin to remember, and as you try to pull Jerusalem towards you, to let it envelop you… you begin to remember the familiar creases, to recall once again the fabric of your destiny, to know the Golden city in the true sense of the word….

Sights.

The city pulses, it seems, with the colors - no, not monochromatic. On the contrary, you've stepped into a spectrum of rainbows, of exotic splendor and exquisite architecture. You move through the market, heading towards the…

Sounds.

Mothers calling to their children, children running farther, stopping at the shining mirrors to quickly toss their heads and make faces at their reverted selves, or simply slowing down to a walk to catch a glimpse of tiny items that no one ever buys within the relic shops of the city which is itself an antique. You make your way farther, bowing your head as you come closer and close to the…

Smells.

Spices everywhere, your nose flaming with cumin and pepper. Gradually, the air becomes salty, your tongue reliving the memory of the Ocean. And slowly, the spices fade away, fragrant flowers step in, and you walk further and further, onwards. You faintly remember oft-trampled architecture, oft-tasted foods. You gaze goes downwards…

Stones.

Mineral deposits, no more, and yet. And yet the blood of thousands has dried, borne its mourning shroud by straggling weeds, then shed its gown and added its say to the folds of memories. These stones, staying still – for what else can they do? -, being. Whispering at midnight, their eyes having seen the passage of history, they cling together and hope for redemption.

But your mind starts to wander, your excitement is mounting, the crease in the fabric undulates with the air of the city.

And you see a "petek" (a note). Yes, a simple slip of paper, the daughters of Israel pleading, Rachel is weeping. You add the note to your inventory, and you look up and the Western Wall stares back, silent.

Once again, stones. Except each stone is a bookend, and each note is a book. Compressed within each cry for help is a story, contained within each message is a life glimpse.

So you turn to the Wall, in the sea of your nation, and push up a wave - you open the note, the paper stained slightly by tea-colored spill, and the words blurred by lachrymose droplets of years. The folds of the paper remind you of fabric, and as you begin to spin away once again, you see a series of words:

"If I forget thee, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand forget her cunning.
Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth,
if I remember thee not;
if I set not Jerusalem above my chiefest joy."

And you're back in you're observatory, your sweaty hands clamped to the telescope. The daughters of Israel break out in song.

Dalia Wolfson, who just recently turned 12, attends Kinneret Day School and lives in Riverdale, Bronx. Born in Haifa, Israel, this extremely talented 6th grader enjoys reading, writing and thinking in her spare time.
Photo by Chana Lewis.
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Anonymous ny, ny November 25, 2008

wow extremely well written. i felt like i was there...... Reply

Jessica Klein Levenbrown Los Angeles, CA December 13, 2007

amazing Remarkable writing for an adult. But a twelve year old? Incredible. Look forward to reading more from you. Truly lovely. Reply

Tone Lechtzier Trail, Or US December 10, 2007

Shalom,
thank you for the journey in your wondrous river of consciousness. Take my breath away. An ancient soul radiates in a young - old woman -
Happy Chanukah Reply

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