More than anything else, I am a Jerusalemite, with all that it entails. I apologize if this sounds a bit patronizing, but I think only Jerusalemites can understand what this means. I truly love Jerusalem and am loyal to the city. And most of all, I miss it. Oh, I guess I forget to mention that I have been living in Tel Aviv for years.
But I only "live" in Tel Aviv, nothing more. On Sukkot my wife (who is also from Jerusalem) and I decided to take our son (who was born in Tel Aviv) and visit the capital, as tourists. But this time not just to have dinner, but to spend four full days at the parents' house. I feel a little pinch in my heart as we pass by the René Cassin School, the heart beats faster near Teddy Stadium, and there is Hebrew University, where I gave the city its final chance, long after everyone else left. We take the Light Rail for the first time, eat real hummus as "Pinati" and stand mesmerized opposite the Old City walls.
For a moment there I feel euphoric; the longing blurs my senses. "Enough with Tel Aviv's pretentiousness; maybe we should try moving back to Jerusalem," I tell my wife. "Forget the demographical problems, the litter and the smell of urine; forget the traffic jams and the terrible infrastructure; disregard the fact that there are no jobs here and that the level of education is at an all-time low; ignore the fact that everything is shut down on the weekends and that a secular mayor managed to make things even worse and that we do not have even one friend left here. It'll be fine; we make it work."
'Love just isn’t enough.' Jerusalem's Old City (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
My love story with Jerusalem does not have a happy ending. It didn't work. My wife was not convinced. Deep down inside, I wasn't either. Here we are, on our way back home to Tel Aviv, again. As usual, near Modi'in I am overwhelmed with a sense of guilt. How am I turning my back on Jerusalem yet again? Maybe, like everyone else, I am choosing the easier option? Could it be that we are not fighting hard enough?
In their famous song "Here I come," Hadag Nachash best described this moral dilemma. Here in Tel Aviv there are many Jerusalemites who miss the city and want to return to it so much, but they know there is nowhere to go back to.
Almost everything I do in Tel Aviv smells of betrayal. I apologize, Jerusalem, for going out for a beer on Friday night and for going to the theater on a Saturday; I apologize for going to the beach today and for enjoying a picnic at HaYarkon Park; I apologize for the fact that I can buy diapers 24/7 at the store near our apartment; I apologize for the fact that public transportation here is efficient; I apologize for the fact that it is clean and pleasant here; that it's fun to live here. I apologize.
In 1993 Ehud Olmert defeated the late mythological mayor Teddy Kollek in the municipal elections. Kollek's campaign slogan was "We love you Teddy," while Olmert's was "We love you Teddy, but we are voting for Olmert." Love, as it turns out, just isn’t enough.
So forgive me, Jerusalem my love. I really tried, and I really do miss you. I would like to say that "it’s not you, it's me," but we both know this is not the case. It's not me, it's you. I love you Jerusalem, but I choose Tel Aviv. I will visit for a few days during Pesach.
Amir Tchernichovsky, 30, is a Jerusalemite who lives in Tel Aviv