'We are Israel, all good people are welcome here.'

What lingers in the mind most is the act of kindness of one resident of Jerusalem in the middle of a crowded market, with a smile as big as the Sea of Galilee.

March 9, 2017 11:21
1 minute read.
Orthodox man stands facing the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem

Jerusalem Temple Mount. (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)


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During Christmas 2016, my husband Peter and I traveled to Israel. Arriving too early to check into our hotel in Jerusalem, we left our luggage and set off on foot to explore.

At last, we reached the busy Mahane Yehuda Market awash with Shabbat shoppers and excited tourists. What a cacophony of smells, sights and sounds! My husband stood in a long line at the Vegetarian wrap stall desperately trying to understand the menu. A middle aged gentleman just ahead of Peter, and wearing a yarmulke, kindly asked if he could help with the choice. He explained the food and what was the most delicious to eat.

The two began to chat. “Are you and your wife Pilgrims to Israel?” he asked as the line moved slowly forward. “In a sense,” my husband replied, “My wife and I have wanted to visit Israel for a long time, and although we are Atheists, we feel a great spiritual joy in being here." The man smiled widely. “We are Israel,” he said. “All good people are welcome here, even Atheists.” He laughed warmly and my husband laughed with him.

Our ‘Pilgrimage’ was a profound journey through joy, sadness and a deeper understanding of what it means to live in such a complicated country. We took home with us so many moving and wonderful experiences of the country and its history. Above all though, surprisingly what lingers in the mind most is the act of kindness of one resident of Jerusalem in the middle of a crowded market, with a smile as big as the Sea of Galilee.

'We are Israel, all good people are welcome here.'

Written by J-Pilgrim contributor Nadine Herrington Porter.

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