Sunday, October 17, 2010

Hidden in Jerusalem

Jerusalem is known for hiding it's most amazing places down little alleys ways and behind obscure and hidden doorways.

Every Jerusalemite has been given an address, only to arrive at the building and find no trace of the supposed business or office...UNTIL, after circling the building several times, one spies an unused looking unmarked door in the back corner, behind some bushes, and gingerly pushes it open. Inside he will probably be met with a nondescript stairwell, seemingly leading to nowhere. No signs or names anywhere in sight. If he is uninitiated to the ways of Yerushalayim he might just give up and leave, but for the rest, well, they know the adventure of discovery is only beginning. Some unmarked door off this stairwell will produce the treasures sought: enormous state of the art business offices, sports centers, government offices , art studios, all bustling hubs of people and enterprise.

Lama, lama you ask (why, why?) ... but then you smile and realize that you wouldn't want it any other way. This is Israel, this is Yerushalayim.

I suppose to the person born in Jerusalem, what I am about to say will sound really silly, but I found what I felt was the greatest treasure of all a few weeks ago...and it's one that every kid and his parent knows about - like you know where to find the corner grocery store in your neighborhood. Except I didn't know about it.

Directions here are given not by street addresses but by landmarks. Many times over the last few years, in trying to describe a location in the moshava hagermanit, (German Colony) people would say to me, you know, it's by the swimming pool...or say matter-of-factly "you know where the swimming pool is, right?"

Nooo! I had no idea where this swimming pool was!!.. until that is about a month ago. I stumbled across it by accident. Waiting for something or someone near the big super(market) on Emek Refaim, I decided to walk down a little dark corridor between the super and the change store & coffee shop. The hallway went into the building that housed a few shops... and i had never looked to see what else was inside the building. I knew there was a gym inside somewhere, but as i walked around the corner...i saw a man sitting in a chair as if to take tickets or money...and i don't suppose........

OMG.... i peeked in and i could see just the beginnings of what i realized was not just any looked huge!! When I asked to go in and look I found behind this doorway a beautiful outdoor pool with slides, patios lined by a lawn with tables and umbrellas, and an enclosed olympic size pool that is absolutely gorgeous.

I was stunned. Down this dark little funny shaped hallway, there was a treasure of treasures. Right after my discovery, someone told me the pool was closing for good at the end of October, a Jerusalem rumor that, thank God, turned out to be false....but it sent me running with camera in hand and intention to plead for mercy for the pool.

The pool is open May - October for public swimming, swimming classes, exercise classes, and even sports a swimming team. What makes this treasure even more special is that originally, in the 50's before the moshava was built up, before there was a super or an Aroma coffee shop, even before there was a building with a funky little hallway to go down, there was this wonderful swimming pool....out in the the field. Perhaps not the enclosed olympic pool yet, but...a lovely pool that I am sure was the summer hot spot this edge of town.

I was told that I could take pictures but not show the faces of the people swimming....for privacy and religious reasons....and since it is already mid October, the pool was accommodating... it was relatively empty, but lovely on a sunny autumn afternoon.

Forever the teacher, Jerusalem reminds us that the hidden things are worth the search, treasures to be cherished.

.... sometimes, the hidden treasures are people.

See more pool pictures here

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