These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

There is nowhere like Jerusalem to celebrate the Chagim!

Posted on October 4, 2012 by Stuart Matan Lithwick

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This post is cross-posted from my Studymoon blog at


Shmatan here again. I want to start a new tradition that I actually started on my first day in Jerusalem… Drumroll please…

The cat count!

There are thousands and thousands of cats in Jerusalem! Why you might ask? Well, at some point in the history of Jerusalem, there were thousands and thousands of rats in Jerusalem. Introduce cats and bingo, your rat problem disappears. And thus brings us to a time where there are cats everywhere!

So today is our first cat count = 48

I have a feeling this number will be much much higher by the time Annie and I leave Israel!

So I am writing this post in the midst of the Jewish Holiday of Sukkot, but this is the culmination of weeks of incredible experiences. There really isn’t anything like celebrating the holidays in Jerusalem!

Over Rosh Hashana we had invites to so many people’s places, that we ran out of lunches and nights! One of the people who invited us over was a person that I had known for literally 30 seconds before receiving the invitation. Only in Jerusalem!

But the most amazing experience was on Yom Kippur. In Jerusalem on Yom Kippur, all car traffic, I mean all, is shut down. Hey, why stop at car traffic! TV stations, radio, stores, museums, everything is closed! It is so surreal! Not only does car traffic stop, with the newly open streets, everybody piles out into the street to hang out. I mean, there is nothing else to do but hang out! After Kol Nidre services on Erev Yom Kippur, Annie and I went out to Emek Refaim, and it was completely packed with people! For all those Toronto people reading this blog, think Nuit Blanche packed! It was so weird but amazing at the same time!

It’s hard to believe that it is already Sukkot! Time is flying by so quickly. The best news of all is that Annie is finally, really back on her feet! After 3 rounds of antibiotics, skin creams, and lots of TLC, Annie and I went on our first real walking tour of Jerusalem. After a hairraisiing bus trip down to the shuk (I think our driver was moonlighting at the Indy), and a sprint through the Old City, we made it, just in time, for our tour of the tunnels that run alongside the Western Wall. This experience, was, well, mindblowing… That doesn’t even do it justice really! As a part of this tour, we got to see the entire height of the Western Wall, which must run an additional 20 m BELOW what is currently visible above ground, plus we got to stand at a point that is 97 m from the actual holy of holies that is currently off limits to most people. This is the place in theory where the 10 commandments once were (now they are hidden somewhere!). If anyone is coming here, this is an absolute must! This experience was so incredible, very well worth a brief encounter with razor wire that I had on the way home! Jerusalem is a dangerous place LOL 🙂

OK, time for our next adventure, our first mainstream feature film in Jerusalem! Have a wonderful rest of Sukkot everybody!