Why I Like South Jerusalem

Yesterday, Ilana and I attended a funeral at a moshav near Netanya. And as always happens on our occasional trips to places where there’s lots of space, we momentarily longed to sell our tiny apartment and move out to the country.

The two-hour drive back was enough make me appreciate the city and remind me why we returned to Jerusalem after our year-long sojourn at Kibbutz Tirat Tzvi in 1990-1991. In the country, you have to spend a lot of time driving to get pretty much anywhere. And I hate spending time in car. Living in Baka, our Jerusalem neighborhood, we don’t even own a car.

I have a bike. Most mornings I take a seven-minute ride out to Tahanat Ha-Kafeh (The Coffee Mill), my favorite cafe on Emek Refa’im Street, and sit there and translate for two or three hours. Then I head down the street to the pool to get my daily laps in, and then I go home. If we need some groceries, an appliance repaired, a check deposited, it can all be done en route.

Within a 20-minute walk from my home are a wide variety of schools, synagogues of every imaginable ideological and ethnic stripe, as well as some quiet parks and the beautiful promenades overlooking the Kidron Valley. Twenty minutes on my bike takes me to an entire network of amazing biking and hiking paths in the Jerusalem Forest.

Add to that the fact that South Jerusalem is the only place in the world where you can be a left-wing, skeptical Orthodox Zionist Jew and feel like you are part of a mass movement.

It’s enough to make you feel sorry for people who live in the country.

6 thoughts on “Why I Like South Jerusalem”

  1. Well Haim- You certainly do make good use of the city and its surroundings- you know that you are the exception to the rule and not the norm- but- what’s importmant is that you are happy!

  2. As one who left South Jerusalem three years ago for the country – Moshav Beit Zayit, located 300 meters beyond city limits – I’m still debating which is best. I have clean air, the howl of jackals at night, views of pine-covered hills and now, the hundreds of blooming almond trees. Nonetheless, during these three years, I have busied myself writing stories that take place on Bethlehem Road. This was my form of dealing with separating from Baka after living there for 30 years.
    Two weeks ago I decided to move back into the city, stories completed. I looked at an apartment on “the quietest street” in Baka. It didn’t have light, a view, expanse, nor the silence of the country. Now I’m reconsidering.
    This blog may enable me to stay in the country and still feel part of Baka.
    If anyone in Southern Jerusalem wants to garden, farm or just smell the roses, come down the hill. But don’t wait too long. I don’t know how long I’ll be here.

  3. I would so much like to live in “South Jerusalem”, in a nice neighborhood like Baka or Hamoshav Hagermani, surrounded by progressive, skeptical, left-wing people like you, instead of my North East Jerusalem “settlement” of Pizgat Zeev! But I don’t have the money for that… Too bad!

  4. Yishai Kohen, why is Baka occupied Arab land? Gaza is sitting on potentially some of the most valuable real estate on the Mediteranean Sea and it is open sewer pipes and rubble. Why don’t some of the Palestinians wealthy Arab bretheren pump some of those oil billions in and turn it into a paradise? Why is what was lost and never utilized all that is sought? There is a reality of Gaza and the West Bank and it sits in filth and violence. And these citizens are not the remnant of Hitler, and they are allegedly supported by the Arab Muslim world. No people expect land back that was taken after three unprovoked wars. Is the United States asked to give back North and South Dakota to the Sioux? The Palestinians true grips should be with heir wealthy Arab oil allies who just pay them to blow themselves up but not to build an economy.

  5. I have no idea why so many countries are against Jerusalem. However, I do know God and Jesus will fight for their people (Jew) and bring all your enemies to their knees. I also don’t understand why you as God’s choosen group of people don’t believe that Jesus has already been here to earth once before. That is the only reason we are all here. Can anyone answer my question regarding this?

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