Rehov Caspi , a beautiful street in the Talpiot section of Jerusalem.
Situated at the former border between Jordan and Israel. Trenches just next to our apartment buildings. Situated on top of one of the beautiful mountains/hills from Jerusalem, where nature was flourishing… I was blessed to have been part of her history, just a very little part, but I could call it home for a little more then a year.
Never I have been more happy in my life then in that street. My best friend Martin Mulder, son of the former ambassador of Holland in Israel, lived in the house next to our apartment and we used to play pingpong in the shelter of their house with the most amazing view at the Dome of the Rock and the old city. We played hide and seek in the empty apartment buildings that were still under construction. We walked in the old trenches not aware of the history and probably the sadness that must have been present on that same spot. I remember how I found an old watch. Today I realize with horror that it probably belonged to a soldier that might have been injured or maybe worse… It was a great adventure. We Dutch children loved the adventure, we often went downhill, to look for scorpio’s or explore the caves we found. We asked our Israeli neighbors to join there. But none of them was allowed…..Downhill there was a hostile arab village and the Israeli parents were scared.
The world belonged to us.. Jerusalem was our home.. The smell of the beautiful flowers that grew in that street.. the amazing views… every second I enjoyed. Rehov Caspi was home for more expats. I had a friend from Sweden Erica and with the neighbors Sandy Donner and her friend Sara, ( both made, not long before we came to live there, Aliya with their families from USA and England) we formed an international group of happy kids… But the Dutchies were the most adventurous, or maby the most naieve. With our pocket money we bought the poor birds that Arabic youngsters had caught in nature and were selling to us…to release them immediately back in nature.
In an empty field near rehov Caspi, the place that is now full of “new”apartment buildings soldiers of IDF were training. I used to sit there and watch the soldiers , being jealouse.. I wanted to be that strong and tough. In their break I often brought them coffee and cold lemonade. Already then a huge fan of IDF. And not only the soldiers I took care of, the cats were very happy with me, It started with a small lonely kitten, that I called “Bo Bo” but soon after the first kitten more then a dozen of cats enjoyed daily food, water and shelter under the balcony of the first floor, I build a kind of cat hotel. Now I am not sure the neighbors have been truly happy with that stubborn girl from Holland.
Jerusalem was for me a place of joy, happiness, bejoint imagination. Now when I walk in the streets of Jerusalem and In my street, were I go every single time when I am in Israel I cry. Sure the beauty is still the same, the smell of the flowers is the same, the view is almost the same, although the trenches are not accessible anymore, the mountain/ hill is not free accessible, I cry because of my lost childhood, my lost home, my lost friends.
Always when I come to Israel I come home. I am the girl again that was running around in Jerusalem. The girl with the many many friends. The girl that rescued the birds and cats. Jerusalem did change ofcourse. When I returned in 2015 for the first time since decades I was truly afraid I would be disappointed. Disappointed due to so many things, for example the light rail now crossing Jaffa road, ugly modern was my idea. The buildings for sure would be ugly and I had many fears. But Israel, small country, big in knowledge made the lightrail almost disappear in the existing environment.
New buildings build with Jerusalem stones did not affected the characteristic view and atmosphere of this ancient city.. The very first time I was back in Jerusalem my heart opened I truly felt that Jerusalem is the most beautiful city on earth. The smell is different, the views are different, the people are different. It is something we must cherish for eternity.
Jerusalem is the proud capital of Israel, the only one and undivided capital of the Jewish state. The place where you feel the Jewish spirit the best and the most.
“If I forget thee O’ Jerusalem, let my right hand wither. Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy.”