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August 2, 2014 / 6 Av, 5774
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Only in Jerusalem

My son and daughter-in-law were recently in Yerushalayim. They had a family simcha and they wanted to visit with their son who is learning at Mir. Of course, you don’t need an excuse to go to Yerushalayim. A trip there is always an exhilarating experience. The days pass much too quickly, as all who have been to Yerushalayim can testify.

There are so many places to go to, so many places where you want to daven, so many friends and relatives you want to visit. And there is the Kotel. The Kotel is always beckoning. It draws you close. Once you stand there in prayer in front of those ancient sacred stones you are transfixed and lose all sense of time. The walls speak, your hearts throbs, the tears flow, and you know you have come home.

Additionally, there are so many charitable organizations and programs that call out for your attention. Unfortunately, there are many poor people in Yerushalayim and now that government subsidies have been cut, families have difficulty just putting food on the table. Families with many children live in tiny apartments, many with one little room that serves as a dining room, a living room and even a bedroom. But these families live by the credo of “Baruch Hashem” – “Thank G-d for what we do have.”

As the time was nearing to return to the U.S., my daughter-in-law went shopping for gifts to bring home. So where do you go shopping in Yerushalayim? What is the best place? There is a religious neighborhood in the heart of the city called Geula, and the little shops there are amazing. But it’s not just the shops; it’s the entire neighborhood. Should you be there on Erev Shabbos, the aromas that assail you are extraordinary – chicken soup, kugel, cholent, fresh-baked challah and cakes. Just walking in the streets on Friday afternoon will take you back to your bubbie’s kitchen. If you haven’t experienced this yet, I highly recommend you do so on your next visit.

In any event, after picking up some knickknacks in a store, my daughter-in-law saw a mother with a large family struggling to get a stroller up on the sidewalk. My daughter-in-law quickly ran over to help and then went on her way. My son joined her. After walking a while she realized her shoulder felt very light. She reached for her pocketbook but it wasn’t there.

To lose a bag is not a pleasant experience under any circumstance, but to lose it when you’re traveling can be traumatic. It contains your passport, credit cards, driver’s license, etc. My daughter-in-law carefully retraced her steps with my son. They thought that perhaps she’d left it in the store where she had just shopped. They went back but the proprietor told them he hadn’t seen a pocketbook. Just the same he invited them to watch the video that recorded all events taking place in the shop. My children scrutinized the film very carefully and yes, there was my daughter making her purchase and then leaving the store with her bag on her shoulder.

My son proceeded to call the credit card companies to cancel the cards. But the mystery still remained. Where could the pocketbook be? They walked up and down the streets for quite a long time searching for it, but the pocketbook was nowhere in sight.

Suddenly, a man who identified himself as a rabbi approached them.

“By any chance is your name Jungreis?” he asked.

“Yes,” my son answered.

“Does this belong to you?” he asked as he held up the pocketbook. My children couldn’t believe it. How did he find it? Where did he find it? The rabbi sighed with relief and explained.

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One Response to “Only in Jerusalem”

  1. When I was visiting the Old City, I just left a shop where I had bought a necklace. As I was walking down the street, a man came running up behind me, yelling at me in a language I didn't understand. Was it Hebrew? Was he an Arab about to attack? I had no idea, so my New Yorker instinct told me to ignore him and walk faster. Another person said "That man needs to talk to you!".

    I stopped and turned around, and he was waving money at me. I had neglected to zip up the pocket of my backpack, and 400 shekels had fallen out – all the money I had! He handed it back to me, and in in typical Israeli fashion, proceeded to lecture me to be more careful. :-)

    Only in Jerusalem!

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