Once again, my family and I are visiting Israel from the northwest corner of the U.S., in Seattle, Washington, where I manage an Israel resource center (www.BroaderView.org). And once again, we are spending our summer in my hometown of Rehovot. While the kids are at day camp—“kaytana” in Hebrew—I roam the country by bus and train and car to see friends and acquaintances, old and new. Once again, my travels bring me to Jerusalem for a day of meetings. I wrote last year about my adventures on Jerusalem’s “CitiPass” light rail, and got some very positive reactions, so I thought I would post an update.
The air is cooler in Jerusalem, drier, crisper, breezier than on the inland plains. It feels different not only physically, but also spiritually—literally, uplifting, where my step is lighter.
The security checkpoint at the entrance to the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem is closed. It is not abandoned; the x-ray machine and metal-detector gate are still there, but pushed aside, unused. Two security guards stand around, more engaged in talking to each other than observing the passersby. Ironically, I feel more secure, not less, with the lax security. Obviously, Israelis are no longer anxious about suicide bombers, and it’s easier to come and go.
Walking along Jaffa Road, I note that it is back to the bustling commercial area it once was, before it was torn up for years to build the light-rail lines. There are fewer cars now and more pedestrians, and the Mahane Yehuda market is as busy as ever. Hair salons and clothes shops, hardware stores and cafes, a youth hostel and a hat seller, old buildings and new line my route, along with quite a few construction sites in progress. The economy is obviously booming.
Read the rest of this letter here.