3 Blocks in Half an Hour

3 Blocks in Half an Hour

It can take me half an hour to walk three blocks.

And that, I think, is what I love the very most about living in Nachlaot. My home for 16 years. My neighborhood since my wedding night. The place where all of my children have been born and raised.

I love that I walk out of my house and I know almost everyone I see. I know the widow who hangs her laundry on a line out her window, and looks down to smile and wave as I walk past. I know the divorcee who owns the second-hand clothing store across the way who sets aside the frilliest and most gorgeous dresses for my daughters before the holidays. I know the Charedi Rebbetzin who shmoozes with me at the playground about her harrowing births, and invites me to all her children’s weddings.

Not that I know these people so well. Sometimes I don’t even know their names! But I do know them. I remember when her daughter was born. I remember when she sat shiva for her father. I remember when her baby was born sick, but then recovered, B”H. I remember when I held her shaking arm to assist her over a patch of ice following a snowtorm.

My husband and I don’t have any family in Israel. So this, I sort of feel, is what we have. We have a random collection of people whom we know and who know us.

And there’s almost nothing that makes me feel happier than walking around these streets, and seeing the people who have formed my human landscape for the past decade and a half.

And that is what I thought of when I saw this powerful interactive photograph of the funeral for a Canadian woman who passed away suddenly. 20 journalists interviewed every single person at the funeral, to talk about their unique connection with the deceased. It is sad, but also beautiful in a way. To see the diverse webs of connection and friendship that surround every person in every community in the world.

And this photograph helped me to clarify something important.

For many years I’ve been fantasizing about leaving Nachlaot. For over a decade, I’ve been dreaming about living in a religious neighborhood filled with religious families just like us. Wouldn’t that be a better place to live and raise my children than Nachlaot’s eclectic alleyways?

But, on the other hand, would I be willing to give up these diverse webs of connection and friendship that have taken me 16 years to develop? Would I be willing to give up on that 3-block walk that takes half an hour?

I don’t know if that’s a price I’m willing to pay.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.com user Earl 37a

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2 comments

  1. for the past 21 years that i have lived in my neighborhood in brooklyn, i have dreamed of making Aliyah and raising my children in true holiness. like you, we also do not have any relatives nearby.
    recently, i looked around and began to really appreciate the many nuanced relationships i have developed here. and so, as i still wrestle with the desire to make Aliyah, i also wonder about being able to recreate that fine web of friendship and support it has taken 21 years to develop…

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