Walking through the streets of the Old City of Jerusalem in the minutes before sunrise is both peaceful and exhilarating. I make my way down to the Western Wall to pray first thing in the morning, excited by the prospect of experiencing a new day in the Holy City. I wash my hands in water before beginning my prayer, and concentrate while speaking to God. I thank God for the opportunity to be here in Israel, to be healthy and alive.
On my way back up the stairs from the Western Wall I hear the sound of store owners opening for the day, of prayer-goers on their way down to the Western Wall humming a tune, of the laughter of children playing in the streets on their way to school. Jerusalem is a beautiful mix of different people from all over the world, immigrants and tourists alike. I hear Hebrew, English, Arabic, Russian and more languages I don’t even recognize. Aromas of baked pita and freshly brewed coffee fill the air.
The Jewish Quarter of the Old City today is home to over 2,000 residents, as well as synagogues, yeshivas and stores. The visitors walking through learn about the thousands of years of history that took place here. Tour guides describe the period of the second temple and the war of 1967 when Jerusalem was reunified. Many people walk through these streets of stones and vines and see the history, but to me I see this place as my home and envision the future of the Jewish People in the Holy Land.