Shalom shalom friends and family!
I write to you from Tzubah. So what is Tzubah?
In order to really explain what it is, one would have to carry home a large stack of history books in order to cover all the time periods that have left a mark on this hill. Luckily, wiki can gather it all on one page.
So here we go. Tel Tzova is a hill located west of Jerusalem that was the site of an ancient Jewish settlement in the days of King David as recorded in Melachim (2 Samuel 23:36). There are olive presses, agricultural terraces, wells and water systems here from the time of the first temple. Dug into the hill are ancient caves that were used by Jews living at the end of the second temple period in order to hide from scary Romans during the Bar Kochbah revolt. It then became a settlement in the time of the Mishna (the Oral Torah) known as Guy Tzuvim. In 1170, the Crusaders took over the hill and built a fortress, “Belmont”, to guard the route to Jerusalem (some of it remains today!). It is in a strategic location overlooking the road to Jerusalem.
Belmont was conquered by Saladin in 1191, and an adjacent Arab village (Suba) was established. In early 1948, irregular forces of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood stationed in Suba, attacked on Jewish traffic on the main highway from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. During Israel’s War of Independence, it was the scene of fierce fighting and most of the inhabitants of Suba fled, abandoning scattered stone houses and well. The Palmach (a fighting unit created to defend the Palestinian Jewish community in 1941, before Israel was declared a state) conquered the hill., and a kibbutz was established called Kibbutz Tzuba. The kibbutz grows apples, blows glass and has a chocolate factory. That is called geulah (redemption) my friends. Jews returning to their site and making chocolate.
So, I am sleeping on a hill full of stories and lives and years and changes. Every place that I rest, my foot embodies heritage of thousands of years.
Along my trek, I walked through the valley where David beat Goliath, I by mistake ate a plant that Reuben gave to Rachel for fertility, I jumped in a spring that was an ancient mikveh and I slept in an ancient cave that was once used as a hideout from Romans.
I am walking, eating, swimming, and sleeping the Tanach.
I think back to one of my favourite authors from the time of the early pioneers to Israel, A D Gordon, who said it well,
“We come to our Homeland in order to be planted in our natural soil from which we have been uprooted, to strike our roots deep into its life-giving substances, and to stretch out our branches in the sustaining and creating air and sunlight of the Homeland”.
I have been planted into my indigenous home where my history took place and I am continuing it. Bellow me are caves where they hid, beside me grow the fruits they ate, above me is the Gd that watched over them. In front of me is the city that they traveled to for two thousand years.
Everyday, I walk closer and closer to the city and now I am finally breathing the Jerusalem “mountain air clear like wine and the smell of pine…Jerusalem of gold”, as Naomi Shemer sang.
Tomorrow is the big climb to Jerusalem. I think about those who have done it before me. Abraham with Isaac; An Israelite and his family on Pessach walking up for the holiday sacrifice; A Jew from Ethiopia who has just been brought to Israel and has dreamt about seeing his city for his whole life; A tourist who comes to put a note in the wall.
And now me.
This week on the radio, they played the gospel soul song “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down
Ye-eah we wept, when we remembered Zion”
It’s been stuck in my head ever since. Poor weeping Boney M. She’s sitting down and missing out.
See you tomorrow Zion!
Sent from my iPhone