On Shabbos afternoon in Jerusalem we made our way to the shuk which is an open air market in Machane Yehuda.
There is nothing like this. I enjoyed meeting some Israeli soldiers, having an amazing felafel and talking to one of the most unusually striking people I have ever met.
As I was looking in one of the shops a riot started so I walked back to the soldiers and asked what it was about. A young man talking to them stepped in to answer me. He had just-past-shoulder-length, straight, jet-black hair. It was all one length, thick and he played with it while he explained to me about the housing crisis. His skin was pale white, which is rare in the summer in Israel. He had huge eyes which were the color of crystal - like a husky's. He may have worn just a slight amount of make-up. When he spoke, it was with great femininity which fit his looks exactly but startled me nevertheless. I was mesmerized.
But soon I was swept into the crowd and pushed forward into the shuk with the other women from my trip and I was fighting the feeling of claustrophobia and managing to snap a few pictures.
I popped into a candy store and bought one of everything for my children. The vendor was so annoyed with my giant selection that he kept shaking his fist at me.
It is one of my favorite pieces of Israeli culture - the hand held up shoulder level, fingers touching the thumb - in America it might look a sign of great frustration but in Israel it simply means, "wait" - the same as when we hold up one finger indicating we need one moment.
Just outside of the shuk is this felafel stand which is owned by the father of one of my friends here in Kansas City. It was so nice to see her family and the food was amazing.
This is a glimpse at the sea of people. Surely all tourists.
Of course looking at all the fruit, I would have been in heaven if not for the crowds and the noise. I'd love to go back on a quiet empty day and try all the fruits I didn't recognize.
One quickly gets used to seeing guns everywhere and the sense of danger, especially in Machane Yehuda and other places that have been the targets of terrorist attacks.
Even the night on Ben Yehuda street when bomb squads came and pushed us back so they could investigate something, I don't remember thinking for a moment that I was in any danger.
I'm still processing this trip. Most of all it seems to me I was lifted out of the world and given a glimpse of some priceless, timeless knowledge. I even feel as if I've been infused with a small slice of it to carry with me. Thankfully, it's not in my memory but somewhere else, where I can't lose it!