By Larry Gordon
The streets and the stores are overcrowded. It’s something you think you might only see somewhere in India or some African country. But no, this is Jerusalem, and the streets are jammed and teeming with people. It is erev Shabbos and there are things to do, items to buy, and people to see.
These pictures were taken on erev Shabbos Chanukah as the airports and planes were full bringing people to Israel from around the world. Some were coming to spend a long weekend, a week or more, visiting the country; many others were children enrolled for the year in yeshivas and seminaries. It is a great Jewish scene and, if it weren’t real, someone out there would have had to create it.
One of the great things is that you can be pushing your way around a tiny, narrow store and suddenly be shoulder-to-shoulder with a guy you went to elementary school with 37 years ago, and it is as if you are picking up the conversation from where it left off in eighth grade, as if your lives had not diverged. You finally have something in common with almost everyone else on those streets of Geula and Meah Shearim. We are all here.
The questions and answers run the limited gamut from “When did you arrive?” to “Where are you staying?” to “When are you leaving?” You are out there on the streets, bumping into people you know and don’t know, as cars edge slowly along in impossible traffic just centimeters away. I met a man who brought his whole family to Israel for ten days. He took the kids out of school because he’d scored airline tickets on Dan’s Deals for $395 per ticket roundtrip. It had taken them almost 24 hours to make the 10-hour trip, because they’d flown from Newark to Philadelphia, to London, and then finally to Tel Aviv. But what’s the difference? They were enjoying Israel at considerable savings.
Anyway, here are some of the people that I met whom I rarely see—that is, unless I am in one of those stores that are overflowing with people, while looking for fresh challah, dips, and some popcorn to munch on over Shabbos. These are only the people who said “okay, sure, you can take my picture.” Most were camera shy, and ran from my innocent but well-focused iPhone camera.
Last Shabbos afternoon, I was perusing the pages of the Jerusalem Post magazine when I came across an ad suggesting that you can order all the food you need at home online, and forego the hustle and bustle of the stores and streets on the Thursday and Friday leading up to Shabbos. Who are those people? They want us to give this up? Are they for real? v