The 11th Floor

A Perpsective Overlooking Jerusalem, Israeli Life, and Talmud Torah

Monday, November 19, 2007

A strange treasure on Rosanes street.

Not too far from the Shalom Hartman Institute is the kind of block that seems part of a bygone Jerusalem, as if taken from a short story by Amos Oz. About a five minute walk from the shops of Emek Refaim Boulevard,with its exceptional bakery (Pe’er) and immaculate butcher shop (Shoshani and Sons), Rosanes street is quiet, secluded, and drenched in greenery. The old stone buildings feature large lots with gardens and patios, fenced and walled in from noise. The street dead-ends, and it’s intersection is set far enough back that if on a bike or in a car, you could miss it easily enough.

As I have written before, Jerusalem is a city of hidden palaces, a veritable kingdom of secret gardens. Walls and fences are built thick or high to keep the world at a distance. On occasion, you will peer through an open gate and discover displays of horticultural skill that evoke dreams of garden oases and Mediterranean spas.

But on this street is a remarkable, perhaps singular treasure in Jerusalem: a water spigot for passers-by. The spigot is tarnished brass, the setting is done in a pale blue which leaps out at the eye from the limestone of the wall. "All those who thirst, come to the water,” reads the Hebrew (Isaiah 55:1, the start of one of the most comforting chapters in Tanach). The water gushes out with force, and the unused water trickles back behind the wall into a garden.

On one hand, the street dead ends, and this water is not along a known shortcut or regular path. Who would stroll by? There is no through traffic here. And yet, in this dusty mountain town, where water can be scarce and heat can be scorching, what a gift to a lost wanderer on foot. Which is, after all, how I found the place, when in the heat of an August day I was trying to find a shortcut home so I could get a drink.

The rest of the verse in Isaiah reads "and all who have no money; come, buy, and eat; yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." If they had something in the wall for that part of the verse, I have a feeling Rosanes Street would be a horribly crowded place.


Blogger Bloom said...

Let all of them who have complaints come and complaint, let every one who has a package come and bitch and complain at the post office. Crowded indeed. Miss you guys an awful lot.



8:37 PM  

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