Hope is My Middle Name

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strretsignIt's our last day in Jerusalem and we're out for a stroll. One of my favorite things about wandering in Jerusalem is the street signs. Each of them is written in Hebrew, Arabic and English and, together, they tell the story of the history and people of Israel.

We start out in Talbiyot and head along Emek Refaim to the German Colony. Emek Refaim is named for the biblical valley of Refaim, which began its descent here. Right away, we are connected to ancient history. From there, we wander to Rachel Imenu street, named for our foremother Rachel, and I gaze longingly at the new buildings with generous balconies for sale. How incredible would it be to live on a street named for our matriarch Rachel?

From there, we meander toward my old neighborhood of Rehavia, and my eye catches the street Bustenai, where my friends used to live. Bustenai, which comes from the Hebrew word bustan, which means garden, is named for a leader of the Babylonian exile, Ben Chanina, who is said to have successfully interpreted a Babylonian king's dream about a garden, which led to the release of Jewish captives.

And then we stumble upon Nili Street. Nili is an acronym for "Netach Yisrael lo yishaker – The Eternity of Israel wlll not lie," which is a verse from the Book of Samuel (15:29). Nili became the name of the Jewish espionage network, which assisted the UK in its fight against the Ottomon Empire in Palestine during WWI.

For a long while, we followed Derekh Aza, which is a historical road from the Jaffa Gate in the Old City to the Mediterranean Coast, including Gaza City. It was once the hub for wealthy German residents in Jerusalem. It feels ironic to be following a street named Aza, otherwise known as Gaza, through the heart of Jerusalem.

Winding our way toward downtown, we crossed Keren HaYesod Street, which means The Foundation Fund in Hebrew. The Keren HaYesold is the United Israel Appeal, which raises funds for social and educational programs in development towns in Israel, facilitates aliya and absorption and contributes to Zionist education in the Diaspora.

Crossing the main hub of King George Street, named in honor of King George V to celebrate the 7th anniversary of the British conquest of Jerusalem under General Allenby. Jerusalem's very first traffic light was built here, at the corner of Jaffa and King George.

It feels like all roads lead to Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem. Eliezer Ben Yehuda, one of my personal heroes, practically singlehandedly revitalized Hebrew from a liturgical language to a modern spoken tongue.

Every step I take in Jerusalem leads me back in time and toward the future. What better place to find myself?