The Corona Chronicles – Feeling Lightheaded

What has the pandemic done to us? I had intended to devote this post to such weighty matters as the forthcoming elections to the Knesset (in less than three weeks), to the various fake news reports and outrageous conspiracy theories surrounding the vaccine rollout and to the iniquitous decision of the International Criminal Court at the Hague to open a war crimes investigation against Israel. Instead, I find myself unable to concentrate on depressing subjects such as these and will write, instead, of such trivialities as a long walk to a neighbourhood beauty spot, and the joys of going shopping or of getting a much-needed haircut in a rapidly opening (too rapidly?), post-lockdown economy.

Trivialities, did I say?
I lied.
After a year in which I have been denied the pleasure of my monthly field trips with Yad Yitzchak Ben Zvi, it was no small thing to discover the existence of a local beauty spot barely a half hour’s walk from my home. The fact that I only learned of its existence through a Facebook group dedicated to saving it from the Municipality’s plan to erect a Police Station on the spot, thereby destroying one of Jerusalem’s few “green lungs,” is a matter of acute embarrassment to me, not to say shame!

So, fearful that this might prove to be my last chance to see Givat Haturmussim (גבעת התורמוסים – Lupin Hill) in all its glory, I took a walk up there last week.

From the hilltop. there are marvellous views of the Old City of Jerusalem and of the surrounding Judaean Hills.

At the lookout post at the top of the hill, I met a former colleague who lives at the corner of the street that runs below the ridge where the lupins grow, who told me how, for the past few years, he has brought his family here on Shabbat afternoons, to enjoy the beauty of nature and how, during the lockdown(s), when it was impossible to travel more than one kilometre from one’s own home (or, as in the case of the first lockdown, last Pessach/Passover, more than one hundred metres from one’s own front door), it was a lifeline of sanity. And I had not known about it!!! And now it is in danger of destruction!

As I walked home, my eyes were once more opened to the beauty that surrounds us, sometimes right under our noses, if we would only take the time to open our eyes and look.

And here is the same picture after I tinkered with it a bit:

Nor is there anything trivial about going shopping – even though I have, on more than one occasion, written on this blog about how it is not one of my favourite pastimes. But when one has been obliged to make most of one’s purchases online for the past year, there is something pleasantly refreshing about being able to enter an actual shop and try on clothes. So I took advantage of the fact that I was in town for a doctor’s appointment, to walk down Jaffa Road – which was crowded and humming with life, in the first week of Israel’s return to normalcy after the latest lockdown, albeit a very strange “normalcy”, in which entry into many shops required queueing outside, until a vacancy became available inside – since Social Distancing regulations made it necessary to limit the number of people allowed inside at any given moment. The queue outside FOX was so long, I decided there was no point in waiting. I therefore proceeded to Steimatzky’s book shop a little further down the road. There was no queue there. I have to ask myself, what does this say about us – we, who are called “the People of the Book”?
I went inside – but quickly remembered that I am capable of spending two hours in a book shop and coming away with nothing, or else with three or four books to add to the pile of seventy or so that I have bought since retiring and have yet to read. It isn’t that I don’t read. The problem is that book shops are always offering special deals, such as buy two and get one free and so on. Thus, for every book I read, I am acquiring two or three more. I am buying them faster than I can read them!

So I left Steimatzky and walked back in the direction of King George V Street, stopping en route at Golf and Co. where I purchased a “smart-casual” sweatshirt and a new sweater with one of my gift-cards (which I have to use by April – I’m just not sure whether that means the beginning or the end of April).

Nor is a haircut – after living with “lockdown locks” for six months – in any way a trivial matter. The only downside was that I no longer had all that weight of curls to keep my head and neck warm in weather that turned wintry again the following day. Still, there I was in Derech Beit-Lehem (Bethlehem Road), feeling curiously light-headed as I wandered among the many delightful little shops lining the street, and popping into a boutique bread shop, where I stocked up on fancy cheeses, fancier bread and other delicacies, all of them expensive and none of them available at the local supermarket or grocery store.

All in all – a most satisfying week, culminating in Purim.
The elections, the conspiracy theories and the disgraceful politicization of the International Criminal Court can wait.

About Shimona from the Palace

Born in London, the UK, I came on Aliyah in my teens and now live in Jerusalem, where I practice law. I am a firm believer in the words of Albert Schweitzer: "There are two means of refuge from the sorrows of this world - Music and Cats." To that, you can add Literature. To curl up on the sofa with a good book, a cat at one's feet and another one on one's lap, with a classical symphony or concerto in the background - what more can a person ask for?
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4 Responses to The Corona Chronicles – Feeling Lightheaded

  1. Carole Schulman says:

    Good Lord! Can’t they find another place t build the police station??? I hope others feel strongly about it and can wield an influence.

  2. Caren says:

    oh this was lovely!! Israel is on my bucket list, everyone has been but me!!!! Isn’t it funny (and sad) how going into shops now can bring us so much joy? I still haven’t ventured to ANY shops other than the grocery store (and I still often have my groceries delivered) and the drug store. I don’t see myself trying clothes on in a store anytime soon…….the idea of trying clothes on with a mask doesn’t thrill me. I did get my hair trimmed twice since we were allowed to. I had about 4 inches cut off each time! It felt soooooooo good having someone wash my hair!!

  3. David Allon says:

    about queues in bookstores…. my guess more and more people are reading books digitally. we have a Hebrew book club in Stockholm and we choose books that we can get online. It is rare that we want to read something that is not available digitally.

  4. CATachresis says:

    I agree with David Allon. I have a kindle and a subscription to kindle unlimited and I have about 100 books which I have yet to read! I remember the Steimatzky bookshop very well. I used to visit regularly. I do hope they don’t build a police station on that beautiful site. What a travesty it would be!

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