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Through the eyes of strangers

By Shalom Pollack
2/2/2014, 9:02 PM

As a veteran tour  guide, most of my clients come to me  via  recommendation. I  never knows when a request will come and who I  might be guiding.

Today I guided a lovely young man from San Fransisco.  I knew that he  was from the US but his name,, Abhay Puskoor, threw me  a bit - . it sounded like  an Indian  name, and I was right.

His parents  are from India and he is, i guess an Indian - American, part of the great  melting pot, here for a business meeting  with an Israeli high tech start up company in Petach Tikva.  He  wanted to tour the old city for a day and  left the planning to me. I wondered  how" my" Jerusalem would  be received by this first time  visitor - to a very different world than his.

We took a cab up to Mt of Olives where we stopped first at the entrance of a building, home to  a number of young idealistic  Jewish families  - in a sort of  enclave in the midst of the hostile Arab neighborhood of Atur. The families have  a huge Israel flying from their roof - letting all know that the area is no longer "Judenrein".

We also  passed the large  "Orot" housing  complex near by, which will be home, please God to many more Jewish families. Down the road is the "Ma'ale Hazetim" neighborhood with   another hundred and fifty  families. It is just amazing, how the demographic  landscpe is changing before my eyes.

Rule of thumb: Where Jews live, others will feel free to visit.

Even before we took in the famous  breath taking view  of the Temple Mount, and surrounding areas. he was moved by the idealism, faith and guts of these spirited young Jews. We were to meet more of them when we toured the "City of David". There we passed a little Jewish boy running by,, payot  and tzizit flying in the wind. He owned the place. He was no stranger in the oldest part of Jerusalem, despite its majority hostile Arab population. He was not aware that his presence upset the world's leaders and media. He doesn't know who Obama or  Kerry are. He won't know much about the NBA  or Hollywood stars. His parents chose to raise him  where our kings and prophets walked. He knows them intimately. There is no doubt in my mind that tommorow's leaders will be these youngsters. 

I did not have to beat around the bush about  the"challanges" of having  lots od Muslims  as our neighbors. His parents told him all about their experiences with them in  the "old country"..I did not have to be too "politically correct" with him. When I told him that in opinion polls, Europeans list Israel along with Iran North, Korea and Pakisatn as the least popular countries in the world, he exploded, "Pakistan is  a crazy country!"

Indeed, the prophesies about the entire world coming up against Jerusalem is unfolding before us. If Israel is put in the  same catagory as Pakistan by the "enlghtened world", my guest understood that something is very wrong with this picture. He began to take a deep interest in the Jewish faith and history. He was  amazed that Israel is at once a high tech power, a food exporter, disease curer.. and at the same time the repository of the Bible and its echoes. In short, the miracle of Israel stared him in the face. He  could not get over the intertwining of the vast incredible contrasts in one small country

I told him that I suspect that hi very "practical"s high tech Israeli colleagues  in Petach Tikva might  not share my views about the sanctity of the land and its Torah/God connection. He thought that was likely and would like to  ask them how indeed do they feel about their connection to the land. I would ove to be there when he does.

Often times it is through the eyes of total strangers that one gains  a sharper focus on  what one has. I may have taught him alot today , but he has given me  a renewed appreciaition of God's Hand at work in our little miraculous land. 

What a country!

Shalom Pollack lives in Jerusalem where he is a tour guide and writer.

www.shalompollacktours.co.il