Saturday, January 08, 2005

One of Jerusalem's most beautiful spots

I had my first encounter with the Sherover Promenade in the summer of 1990 shortly after it was completed. Arriving in Israel as a 16 year old with a hormonally fuelled tour group, it was our first stop after the airport. I might have been exhausted but it blew my mind - the promenade commands one of the best locations in Jerusalem, overlooking the Old City with the Dome of the Rock glittering like a jewelled centrepiece, and with spectacular views of the Judean Desert.

When I made Aliyah, it was to Ulpan Etzion - a hop skip and a jump from the same promenade. My first Shabbat in the Ulpan saw a group of us, fuelled by an institutional Friday night supper, heading for spiritual sustenance. The view is just as impressive by night and we sat, with a drop or two of single malt, singing Shabbat songs looking across to the Old City; the subject of hopes and prayers for millenia.

Later on, still in Ulpan, the promenade or Tayelet to give it its Hebrew title, became my running track; I'd run along Derech Hebron, turning at Rechov No'omi past the Taverna restaurant (well worth visiting for the ambience, view and especially business lunch) and along the Jerusalem paved stone pathways as the sun set, glinting on the golden dome.

My wife and I decided to take a Shabbat walk this afternoon. We wandered along, holding hands amongst the gnarled Olive trees, pausing to admire the view and to smell the fragrant herbal borders. It has lost none of its magic, even if the view is slightly spoiled by the wall off in the distance; a sadly necessary but ugly scar on the landscape. It had been far too long since I'd last visited - at the start of the intifada a stabbing and a murder had served to scare many visitors away from this most beautiful part of the city, which should be a must on every tourist's itinerary. And just as it is for tourists, so us Jerusalemites should try to visit a spot which serves as a wonderful reminder of quite how beautiful a city we live in.


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