In a city where nothing ever seems to come easy, the arrival this summer of Jerusalem’s long-delayed light-rail Red Line was seen by some as nothing short of a miracle. At many points over the past 10-plus years of construction, it looked as though the Messiah would pass through the Old City’s Golden Gate before the train might arrive. And like many good land-use battles in Jerusalem, this one featured national political aspirations, terrorism concerns and the secular-religious divide, as well as conflicting views of fiscal and corporate accountability and arguments over the best transit solutions for a culturally and religiously diverse city of 800,000.
" . . . In the field of education, we already have a monstrous, corrupt, money-squandering, dysfunctional bureaucracy known as the public school system, which robs parents of control over their children's education and leaves them powerless and defenseless against the colossus of the state. The last thing we need is to create a similar monstrous bureaucracy to deliver health care . . . "
The Brooklyn-born activist rose from his seat, walked slowly to the microphone, cleared his throat, and in front of a couple of hundred fellow activists assembled in an auditorium on a chilly Wednesday night, expressed his righteous indignation.
Early Friday morning a few weeks ago, I was on a bus to Jerusalem's Central Bus Station. I planned to take another bus from there to Mevasseret Tzion, a suburb of Jerusalem, to get a ride to Bet Shemesh for my weekly job in a school there. I was right on schedule. On the bus, I went over my notes for the day, jotting down any new ideas that came along. The bus sighed as we curved around a sharp bend in the road, and I looked around at the other passengers.
I love riding public transportation because I see the most interesting people. I find myself staring at them, picking them apart, and imagining their stories. I examine their clothes, their hair, their belongings, their facial expressions, note whether they are traveling alone or in a pack, if they meet my gaze or if they are also looking around at the other passengers. With all of these bits of information, I piece together their histories and where they are going. It was a gorgeous day, a preview of spring, and the tension that continuously hangs in the Jerusalem air seemed lighter. Though it was early, people were already out preparing for Shabbat.