The whole "Jerusalem Syndrom" concept is bogus. People don't become convinced that they're Jeremiah or Jesus by hanging around Jerusalem. they come there already convinced of that. Jerusalem is a major attraction for people who acted like Jesus back on the Michigan peninsula.
You meet a lot of original people in Jerusalem, self proclaimed prophets, self certified theologians and archeologists, Mary Magdalene and Indiana jones dress-alikes. .. The common tendency is not to listen to them, to drift by them as you drift by the vendors who call after you: Yes my friend, how may I help you?
Yesterday, having too much time on my hands, I went to the hub of false messiahs in the city: the ramshackle Petra Hostel near Jaffa gate. This used to be a finer hotel back in the day, nowadays the wooden stairs screech perilously as I head to the roof for one of the most magnifiscent views on earth, that of the entire old city rolling underneath me towards the mouth of the Kidron canyon, crowned with the dome of the rock and presented against the backdrop of the Mount of Olives. (I've described this view once before )
Behind me was the family of the hostel's chief warden, Gabriel. The members of Gabriel's family are always dressed in long blue gowns. They are members of a religion that observes Wednesday as the holy day and regards Jesus as a Satanic entity. Usually I feel uncomfortable around their unmaskable esoteric lifestyle. This time, however, I was relaxed and found myself taking to them very strongly. One of the kids was crying and Gabriel and his wife took care of him in the kindest way imaginable. Blue or not, Gabriel's cross-racial family is sweet. Their use of English rather than Arabic, Hebrew or the mother's native Czech reminds me of the 1947 U.N. decree in which Jerusalem was designated to become international territory, and a less judgmental city, probably.
Later, on another corner of the roof, I bumped into a blond, middle aged man named Robert. He was hanging the laundry next to a tent full of faded books of scripture, clearly his current residence. I asked him of his life and was told that he was born in D.C., raised in the jungles of Peru, and later came to Jerusalem to compose a research on theology.
I then asked what his research was about and was presented with a pile of information, most of it criticism of modern Christianity and Judaism as compared to a more profound ancient model of Judaism. I also recieved this gem: "You know how all human music is made up of time. It's all got rhythm, it occupies a breadth of time, but God exists outside of time. So I was asking myself, how does God compose music?
"So here is what I realized: I realized God's music must be made up of the differentiations between high and low tones. Now, what are our lives made up of? of hights and depths, of good moments and bad ones. As long as this movement between the high and low persists, we are alive. As long as the line on you hospital monitor goes up and down, you're alive."
The ups and downs of my day are God's music? I loved that. I'd never have heard this had I not fueled on patience and tolerance and climbed to that roof. I'd make a joke here about having received my calling and feeling that I must wear a tarp cape and run through the Via Dolorosa bearing the good news, but this is no joke. Jerusalem's less listened-to visitors bring it both wisdom and tenderness. Who'd have thought.
In other news: tonight my favorite piece of art on earth is to be performed before mine very eyes and ears. The opera Eugene Onegin by Tchaikovsky is coming to the Tel-Aviv opera house. I love this opera so much, I'd write it a love letter, but I fear being rejected. Today is also my Sister Tamar's 24th birthday, to be celebrated with sunflowers and coctails into the night, once Yevgeny and Tanya are done driving each other mad.