This post is the fifth in a series about 25 years living in Israel.
Below the golden domes, ‘onions’, as we like to call them, of the Moscovia convent ( a convent founded by the Russian Orthodox Church in the end of the 19th century) there lies a little village called Ein Karem. It is a quiet little suburb of Jerusalem nowadays. Said to be the birth place of John the Baptist and the home of his parents Zechariah and Elisheva, the place that Miriam (Mary) visited when she just found out she was pregnant with the Messiah, the village gets crowded with tourists that flock to its two churches, its spring and the main street where a few restaurants and cafe’s are. The rest of the village is tranquil and hardly disturbed, the home of alternative types like artists, vegans, yoga teachers, who live peacefully together with a few monks and nuns from several convents.
Twenty four years ago I lived in that village for 8 months, and it was as near paradise as I can imagine. True, the bus came only once an hour. When you miss that bus in the center of town at ten or eleven at night, you are tempted to forget exactly what it was you liked about the remote place you happen to live in. True, friends would think twice or three times whether they wanted to make the effort to come and visit you. True, on Shabbat, when there is no public transport, one would need to take a long walk – up hill – or pay a lot of money to a cab if one wanted to see someone in town. True, the commute to the university where I was a one year exchange student took more than an hour.
But my one and a half room apartment was in a garden, the house it belonged to was in a valley, and the green and the quiet was all I can only dream of now. I still long for Ein Karem. But only the very rich or the very lucky can afford to live there. I was very lucky for eight months.