Sunday, June 9, 2019

Booked in Jerusalem

I'm been spending a lot of time in Jerusalem this month, and every visit yields something new and interesting.

Poetry in Motion

The Israeli Association of Writers in English (IAWE) hosted a launch party for the publication of the latest volume of their annual literary journal:  arc 26. Edited by Shawn Edrei, the works explore "Love in a Time of Conflict." I accompanied poetess Judy Belsky to hear her and many of the other contributors read their works -- some published in the journal, others preferring to share other poems. Some took the theme very literally, combining violence and sex. Others offered more nuanced selections, and one man read his sonnets, which were very clever.



The launch took place on the roof of the Abraham Hostel in Jerusalem. I have passed it many times on the bus, but I had never been inside. Definitely suited to young travelers, it is full of energy. While the poetry reading took place in one corner, hostel guests were socializing by the bar on the other side of the roof. It was a beautiful night to sit under the stars and experience culture in Jerusalem.



Forever My Jerusalem

One of the greatest things about living in Israel is going to historic places. Even more special is meeting people who have experienced the history first hand. I had the honor of meeting Puah Shteiner, the author of Forever My Jerusalem (Feldheim, 1987). Her book chronicles her life in Jerusalem before, during and after the War of Liberation. She was a young girl at the time, but her vivid recollections make for fascinating reading. Her family lived in the Old City, in the Batei Machse. She played it what was a big open area. When the Israelis surrendered, they were expelled from their homes with the clothes on their backs, and her father was held as a POW for nine months. No more spoilers - this book is a must read for anyone interested in the history of Israel.

Then, to visit the places she describes in the book - now rebuilt and reoccupied by Jews, was amazing. Batei Machse is now a public school, and the open area is now a courtyard surrounded by apartments. Even though I read the book twice, listening to Mrs. Shteiner tell her story made it that much more real. Her fondness for the memories and her love of Jerusalem were evident.


Batei Machse - where Puah Shteiner lived from 1945-1948. It is now a school.
This month's Real Cat of Israel is, of course, a Real Cat of Jerusalem, who was lounging on a step in the old city:



Happy Reading!