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The weekly Tora Portion or ‘Parasha’ is the heartbeat of the Jewish calendar. Every week, throughout the year, Many Jews and many others who are not Jews unite while reading and studying an ancient text. From hundreds of years, Reading the Parasha had made an enormous contribution to the spiritual Jewish assets. Today it is as relevant as ever and many dedicated religious people as well as non-practicing Jews feel it serves as an impotent source of inspiration.
For the past few years I have tried to study the Parash every week. Sometimes I only find a moment to read the Tora portion. Other times I read the text and then turn to a thorough reading of interpretations. No doubt that the regular studies influence me. I use my knowledge while guiding tours in Jerusalem, I often find myself thinking of what I have just read and sometimes I find myself talking about it with friends. Some people might think a Parasha is a thing for holy people. Why should I, a secular Jew who chose not to keep the Mitzvot, read the Parasha? I can hear the thoughts of some who would say “He is becoming more and more religious… and what next? A Kipa, a beard and tearing toilet paper before Shabat?” well, I have to say that is the way I am. The Parasha interests me not because it involves matters of holiness but because it has a lot to do with our day to day life. As a tour guide who specializes in Jerusalem I often try and look for the ways the Parasha is realized in the streets of Jerusalem. It might come as a surprise, but I can find an example for every single Parasha. Sometimes it can be a whole site. Other times I’ll find a modest piece of art. It can be a reference to the complete Parash or just a small citation of one of the verses. After a while of doing this I have decided to start a project that will reveal the way I experience the Parasha in the streets of Jerusalem. The next posts will include my ideas about all the Parashot. I must say that often you’ll find quite a few places that relate to the Parasha and while writing I had to choose. I thought it would be best that I write about places that are not so commonly known to the public or that their connection to the Parasha is not a trivial one. I am sure it is not always the best choice. You are welcome to write and share your thoughts, ideas and corrections.
To conclude I’d like to apologize. It is going to be a while before the project is finished. I’ll do my best to write as often as possible and I hope that your patience will prove worthwhile.
In Jerusalem every day is a holiday, but there are still some days that are special. In these holidays people from all over the world gather around and come to the holy city to perform some very diverse ceremonies. Selichot at the Western Wall, Good Friday, a ceremony marking the end of World War I, the Sigd, Palm Sunday, and Christmas are only a number of examples for these types of events. When we take tours on these days we will learn about the origins of these holidays, the different customs and their history, the texts read in the ceremonies, and much more.
Highlights: depends on the ceremony and the day.
Time: each ceremony has its own time. Some late at night, some in the early morning, and some all through the day.
Level of difficulty: these are ceremonies with many people and a big crowd. Sometimes the roads to the area are closed so there is a lot of waking and so these tours’ level of difficulty is moderate to hard.
What are the qualities associated with the citron’s juice? What do the Kurdish people think about the people of the city of Urfa? And which day is laundry day? A tour around the picturesque alleys of the Nachlaot and Zichronot neighborhoods and Mahane Yehuda Market, with the stories of the old days and the flavors of today. A cursed house in the shade, a Jerusalem love story, and a bakery that makes rugelach that stay fresh for at least two weeks will all accompany us in an especially colorful tour.
Highlights: Nachlaot and Mahane Yehuda Market.
Time: 3 hours. A sample meal at the market can be included.
Level of difficulty: easy.