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Back to Jerusalem in December 2023

Touching down at the airport, the familiar sights brought back memories of my frequent visits to the Land this year. As I walked through the airport, my mind wandered back to being in Tel Aviv on October 7th with the sounds of rockets and the barbaric, demonic terrorist attacks in the Kibbutzim down south. Pictures of the hostages still captive lined the walkway.

Before me was a team of 300 people from Malawi who had come to work the land, as there was still a shortage of workers down in southern Israel due to the war. Many of the workers fled back to their countries after the October 7th massacre, some workers were still fighting in the battle, and some workers were Gazans who had jobs in Israel working and farming the Land, but cannot work now.

It was almost surreal as I headed toward Jerusalem. As my driver, Sergey shared his family's story of migrating from Ukraine when he was a mere infant, I couldn't help but draw parallels to the diverse influx of immigrants who made Israel their home post-1948, especially those from Eastern Europe.

Upon reaching my hotel adjacent to the Old City, the tranquility was abruptly disrupted by the wail of sirens and the first rockets aimed at Jerusalem in over a month. It reminded me of the stark reality prevailing in Israel today. It was more symbolic than threatening.

Feeling drawn to immerse myself in the Old City, I decided to explore during Shabbat, witnessing the city enveloped in serene silence and empty streets, with the faint harmonious sounds of families observing the Sabbath. Their voices resonated with the prophecy from Zechariah 8:4-5, foretelling the elderly leisurely sitting and children joyfully playing in the streets of Jerusalem.

This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with a cane in hand because of his age.

The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there." Approaching the Kotel (the Western Wall) it was vastly empty but held a tangible presence of the Lord all around. I walked up to the wall and placed my hand on it, and immediately felt the presence of the Lord racing through my body and just sensed that I needed to dwell there for a while, which I did…

Strolling back through the Old City towards the Jaffa Gate, the profound quiet, and deserted alleys painted a unique picture of the historic City, emblematic of the unprecedented times of 2023 in the Land.

Author: David Cerjan

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