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.