Next year in Jerusalem

This week blogger Asha Sumroy reflects on what Jerusalem means to her - as a city and as a metaphor

June 20, 2018 09:25

I’ve been sitting here for at least an hour staring at a flashing cursor an a blank word document trying to work out what on earth to write about. This definitely isn’t because I have nothing to say. It's because ’here’ is Jerusalem and Im not sure I’m ready to decipher everything that that is making me feel. 

The easiest feeling to identify is one of dejavu. The last time I was in Israel (last September) I was sat in the exact same chair in the exact same cafe writing an application blog for this student blogger role. If I’m being honest it was kind of a joke. Not because I didn’t take it seriously but because I’d never considered myself a journalist. A writer maybe, in ways, but not a journalist - I wasn’t looking for publication experience or anything like that. And it has turned out to basically be me publicly processing my life as a Jew and as a student (and also just generally). And that’s not to play down the fact that I really believe I have an important perspective that ought to be shared, just that it has been a much more reflective writing process than I ever expected.

So maybe its a good thing that I have to sit here forcing myself to somehow verbalise what I’m feeling.

Jerusalem feels the same, in the sense that it constantly feels like an evolving city whilst also being stuck in a stalemate in so many ways. Always moving but always still. The streets are moving and the stones are still. The skyline is expanding but the cranes always seem still. (I could go on and on, but I think that would be an easy way to avoid actually writing about how I feel).

If I’m going with this idea of movement vs stillness then I guess the best way to describe how I feel is that since I lived here for a year and since returning in September, I have moved in some ways and got stuck in others.

I left my gap year thinking that university was a necessary break before inevitably needing to come back to Jerusalem as soon as I could. Being back here now I know theres so much I've still got to do at home. The urgency is still there to spend my life here and to participate fully in a country I feel huge responsibility for, to work to move some of the stillness. But theres still so much unfinished for me at home.

But at the same time I feel like I haven’t found the same spaces of meaning that I had here and thats left a stillness thats feeling more like an emptiness since being back here in the same places. So much has moved in a year - for me and for Jerusalem.

Reading this back makes me sound unhappy, which I’m definitely not. I think it’s more a reflection of this time in life for so many people my age - so much is moving that its hard to know where exactly things are moving to, where we’re going, where we’re supposed to be going, where we want to be going and finding any sort of stillness in the midst of it all to just be.

And in the end, thats what Jerusalem will always be to me, a complicated city with stones that have been still for thousands of years where I can always find the space and time to just be.


Asha Sumroy is one of the JC's regular student bloggers for 2017-18. She is studying at Durham University.

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June 20, 2018 09:25

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