It’s time to explain why I love Nachlaot.
Nachlaot is a very Jewish neighborhood. But it is diversely Jewish, meaning, it has the Jewish world crammed together in its small 23 courtyards. And even in Israel, this is a bit uncommon.
It has religious folks of all kinds, who go back and forth between the many hidden synagogues. They try hard not to look at the secular folks who don’t wear too many layers. The hippies of Nachlaot are, in my humble opinion, also very Jewish because there is a certain way to be a secular jew, a liberal jew, a hippie jew, or all of them combined.
There are Mizrahi, Ashkenazi, and Ethiopian sub-neighborhoods. Yiddish, French, Arabic, Amharic and American English are part of town. Hebrew blankets over them though, always keeping its alluring balance as the language of ancient prayers (sang around each corner on Shabbat) as well as pornographic wall poems and funky political signs.
Many things are going on, and I like to simply wander around and absorb them.
There are people arguing loudly about stupid things, they stop to laugh about something, then resume arguing, with passion. A couple is cursing each other in the middle of an alley; you cannot distinguish if they are going to kill each other or if their love is simply too strong.
There are those who found god, they smoke about it with everyone who cares to listen. Small girls, not older than 6, with long skirts and shiny shoes; their hair is restrained in a long braid behind their neck. Young minds who go to Uni, work 5 different jobs, go to a demonstration and then stay up all night doing creative things. The Americans who came to learn the truth and maybe save everyone. And the grandma who doesn’t understand when did her street become so hip. She cleans her flat patiently, wishes for the weirdos to leave.
I love the livelihood, the sense of community that almost contradicts the differences in the place, I like that everything is beautiful and messy at the same time.
But what I like the most about Nachlaot is the strange peaceful air that maintains itself along the narrow streets, at the heart of Jerusalem, where peaceful doesn’t seem to belong.