And it was all yellow…

The new ‘Mach was’ (‘Do something’) challenge is to do something with the colour yellow. When I read that, two things instantly flashed through my mind simultaneously.

One thing that flashed through my head was the Coldplay song ‘Yellow’ that I really like…

And the other thing that flashed through my head was “Israel photo books”! I had made two photo books of a special trip to Israel back in the fall of 2008 and, as where we’d been to had been warm and sunny, I had chosen to have all the photos printed on a yellow background…

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A little personal history: I was born in Jerusalem and lived in a village just outside Jerusalem until I was 10 years old. I have very clear and very happy memories of my childhood there and I have been back to Israel 6 or 7 times after we moved away. My oldest brother moved back there at the end of the 1990s and now lives there in the south, in the desert, just above Eilat. My brother and his family are Jewish and in 2008 the eldest son did his bar-mitzvah in the kibbutz where they live. For the first time since we had left there in 1980 we were all back in Israel as a family to celebrate my nephew’s bar-mitzvah. It was a special trip with my parents, my brothers and sisters (I have 7 brothers and sisters, of whom 4 are adopted) and our kids, and my aunt. I made these photo books for everyone after we returned from our trip and I still look at them regularly. I associate yellow, sun and warmth (not only weather-wise, but warmth of feeling as well) with that trip. That trip was all about reliving our childhood memories. Here a few pages from my yellow photo books…

For instance, pictures of my old school in Jerusalem. My dad used to drop us off at school before he went to work in the mornings and in the afternoons we’d go home to the village we lived in (3km outside Jerusalem) by bus…

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Or the “monster” we used to play on a lot. My parents would go to a nearby shopping center once a week to get groceries and we kids would stay and play at this playground on the “monster” (a sculpture by French artist Nikki de Saint-Phalle) until they picked us up again…

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We used to go to the old city of Jerusalem a lot, my dad’s office was just outside Zion gate, not far from the Western Wall. It was special taking my kids there…

… with the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (the place where Jesus is supposed to have been crucified) not too far off either…

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Alas we were not able to visit the Al Aqsa mosque that year (it is often closed to visitors for fear of attacks) but the golden Dome of the Rock next to it is always beautiful, glittering in the sun, just like on the first picture I shared above.

During that trip in 2008 we stayed at the guesthouse of the convent right near our old house. As kids we used to be at the convent all the time, we were good friends with the nuns there, and it was so special actually staying there with my own kids, sharing the memories. My oldest brother, who died age 7 a year before I was born, is buried in that convent and we had a little ceremony for him while we were all there together…

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We visited our old house. When you approach our old, very red, house from the front, you have to walk this narrow path till you get to the gate of ‘our’ front garden. They were renovating the house when we were there and we were allowed to come in and visit. These pics are of the approach to our house and the back of the house…

Inside the house, right at the center which was also the living room (the bedrooms surround the central living room area), there is an old olive press. I remembered it as something huge, but standing next to it as a grown up, it felt really quite small to me…

We were also able to enter my old bedroom that I had shared with my younger brother and sister the last few years we lived there. I remember loving to stare out of my bedroom window, I had a great view over the valley from there…

The walk from our old house to the few little shops in the center of the village is only a few minutes and when I captured my daughter skipping down the short central pedestrian street in the village, it brought back many memoires of me skipping there in the same way as a child.

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In the old days when we lived there, there was no checkpoint between Jerusalem and Bethlehem like there is nowadays (including a horrendous wall!). On Sundays, after we had gone to church in Jerusalem, we’d often drive to Bethlehem and have a falafel there in this small place on Manger Square, where the Church of the Nativity is situated. The tiny falafel place is gone, but the Church is of course still there. The entrance door to the church was made very small a long time ago during the Ottoman empire so that people wouldn’t just enter the church on horseback… or it’s small because that means that everyone entering it needs to automatically bow, leaving all egos at the door…

Jerusalem itself is in the hills but when your drive out of Jerusalem to the south you soon head down and into the desert. In the south you get to the Dead Sea…

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… and after a few hours you get to the kibbutz my brother lives at. It’s all rock desert, and orange and ochre and dark yellow down there…

And even inside where the bar-mitzvah for my nephew was held, the walls are yellow…

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So, yeah, the colour yellow is inextricably tied to Israel for me. There is even a very well known Hebrew song called “Yerushalayim shel Zahav” (“Jerusalem of Gold”), so I am not the only one with this association. πŸ™‚

22 thoughts on “And it was all yellow…

    1. It’s a very complicated place, but I do love it there. Jerusalem to me is the most fascinating city. The diversity is astounding and the sense of history is almost overwhelming. It has the old next to the new and people of all colours and religions and national backgrounds.

      Liked by 1 person

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  4. This was also a wonderful blog! Thank you Esther! I do have a question–in the first blog I read, you shared pictures of your baptism, and said your dad was a protestant theologian, and in this one, that you older brother is Jewish and lives in Israel–would love to hear the story about this–if you care to share. πŸ™‚

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    1. Thanks for reading and I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      As for the religion thing: my dad was always very criticial of traditional Christian theology, he was always very much influenced by Judaism in his theories and thoughts, Judaism also being the foundation on which Christianity was built, even though many Christians reject those ideas. Anyway, we had many Jewish friends and celebrated holidays with them, so Judaism became a bit of a second family religion for a while. My oldest brother and second oldest sister in later years were very much in search of their identities in faith and came to the conclusion that Judaism felt right for them. My older brother even married a liberal Jewish rabbi and converted to Judaism, my sister later converted as well (which for both was a long and difficult process). In my family, they are the only two left who actively practice a religion. My other siblings and I are not religious anymore, although we do respect every form of (peaceful) religion. For me personally, I am always interested in religion, it’s just not something I can live by but certain values it has given me (like compassion and empathy) are very much part of my life. My mother is religious but hasn’t gone to church in eons because the Christian theology she hears in churches isn’t how she views Christianity for herself and also isn’t inclusive enough of respect for other religions or even of certain other groups of people. She does on occasion go to synagogue with my sister (who also lives here) for special activities like lectures and such because she likes the honest and critical thinking there.

      Long answer which could be even longer but I’ll just leave it here. Hope it answered some questions for you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That does answer my question–thank you so much for your thoughtful reply. When you said your sister lives near you and your mom now–are you living in the States or in Europe? You don’t need to be specific or answer at all–I’m just curious.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. One of my good friends lived in the Netherlands for close to 20 years. She is an American, but her husband is Dutch, and a relative of Corrie Ten Boom. Do you know who Corrie Ten Boom is? She wrote the Hiding Place. She and her family hid Jews during WW!!, and spent time in Concentration Camp because of it. I love her writings.

    Liked by 1 person

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