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Yerushalayim, the Holy City

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In our prayers every day, and in our blessings after we eat, we refer to Yerushalayim as a holy city. But on a day to day basis, whether we live here or just visit occasionally, do we actually live up to what we say?

Richard Corman does.

Richard is about my age. He made Aliyah about two years ago, and lives in the building next door to me. When he read in the Nefesh B'Nefesh email list that I was moving into his community he volunteered to 'show me the ropes'. From even before we ourselves made Aliyah, he was a fount of knowledge of the best phone plans, the best places to buy a car or appliances, the best carpenter to build our bookcases and cabinets, etc.

And Richard is passionate about Yerushalayim. It bothers him no end that the streets are dirty and that people don't think it is wrong to just drop their litter anywhere they see fit. He has written and called Yerushalayim city council people to try increase the sanitation workers on the job, and the number of times they sweep the streets. He offered to meet with them and present a plan to enlist youth groups to 'adopt' streets, and with another plan to increase public awareness of this issue.

And he didn't just talk or write. Three times a week he can be found, early in the morning, patrolling the neighborhood with a slew of plastic bags picking up trash on the streets. And he does this without any fanfare or attempts to publicize his actions.

This past week I read of the upcoming Sigd holiday. It's a holiday celebrated by the Ethiopian Jewish community here in Israel that marks 50 days having passed from Yom Kippur. You can read up on it at http://www.knesset.gov.il/lexicon/eng/sigd_eng.htm.

The place that hundreds, if not thousands of Ethiopians converge to celebrate in Yerushalayim is at the Tayelet, the Haas Promenade. This location is just a few blocks from our buildings. I had heard from Richard last year how unprepared the city's sanitation department was for last year's celebration, and how the trash accumulated on our streets for days afterwards.

So this year, following Richard's example, I volunteered to spend an hour the day after Sigd (which was this past Friday, October 31st) to help him clean up our local streets. He told me to prepare at least eight plastic bags, and gave me a route of about three blocks up from our building, the median between both sides of the street, and then the three blocks down the other side and back.

I went out and about 7:15 am (after Daf-Yomi and Shacharit), and spent an hour bending down, picking up trash, and filling my bags. At one point a police car drove up as I was attempting to clear part of the street's median, and the officer inside said something like 'Is this worth the bother?'. I answered that I'm just trying to do whatever I can, and he nodded and told me to just be careful from the cars as I was walking up and down the street. The hour of picking up trash was grueling work, but it was emotionally satisfying as a number of cars passed by with the drivers giving me thumbs up for my efforts.

I felt pretty good about what I had done. Richard sent me an email later that day thanking me for being his 'partner' He said he saw me from a distance, and that he had been out for 3 1/2 hours (!) down the road from where I had been. He gave me a B+ for my effort.

I'm glad that I was able to do a little something to clean the city and to renew the sense within myself that Yerushalayim is a holy city and that we must treat it as such.

But I'm even happier that I have a friend like Richard, who can inspire me to be a better person.

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COM_EASYBLOG_GUEST Tuesday, 11 December 2018
Last updated on: 12/11/2018
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