During normal times, 20-25 people could sign up for a trip the winding streets of Jerusalem’s Nachlaot neighborhood to hear famed Israeli storyteller Jacky Levy share historical tales about the old-time residents.
But these aren’t normal times. Social distancing and mask-wearing, exacerbated by the record-breaking heat wave across Israel, meant that the tours have been cancelled.
So in honor of Yom Yerushalayim, the Yachad – Jewish Identity Program hosted Levy on its Facebook page, enabling his homage to Jerusalem through storytelling and acting to reach an even wider circle. Nearly 300 people joined in from their climate-controlled living rooms, mask free and safe, to travel the windy alleyways and hear nostalgia-filled folktales from the synagogues and shops of Nahlaot. They came to know Hassan and Flora and neighborhood spats, old-time community synagogues and donkey-driven beigele carts; how the locals made it through days when there was no food, sustained by a deep and pervasive longing to visit the moss-covered stones of the Kotel.
“Jacky captured our national connection to and passion for Jerusalem through his stories,” wrote Chaim Abadi, a participant from Bat Yam. “He brought the city to life and made us all feel as though we were there, and we must preserve our collective memories.”